Mike Aquilina

Ring in the Season

Sunday November 30th 2008, 8:12 pm

Publishing bigwig Kevin, from Scepter, directs our attention to some beautiful early Christian signet rings, here and here.

Scepter, by the way, publishes Father Mike Giesler’s patristic fiction trilogy: Junia, Marcus, and Grain of Wheat.

After Thanksgiving, Feast Your Eyes

Friday November 28th 2008, 12:08 am

Adrian Murdoch directs our attention to a virtual tour of Hagia Sophia and updates on its state of disrepair.

PhDiva, who took us to Hagia Sophia last week, now takes us to the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, a site I’d love to see some day.

A Year in the Red

Wednesday November 26th 2008, 5:42 pm

There have been many tributes to Houston’s patrologist-archbishop, Daniel DiNardo, on the first anniversary of his being named a Cardinal. Whispers in the Loggia brings them together rather admirably.

We’ll excuse his closing reference to His Eminence as “the Southern cardinal.”

Once a Pittsburgher, always a Pittsburgher.

Cup’s Up

Wednesday November 26th 2008, 9:45 am

Those who read my book The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence will be cheered by Zenit’s report of an academic conference on the Grail held in Valencia, Spain (home to one of the Grail contenders). My co-author Chris Bailey and I rejoice whenever there is serious discussion of the Grail that doesn’t involve UFOs, healing crystals, or Mary Magdalene’s phenotype.

Cross Purposes, Indeed

Monday November 24th 2008, 3:24 pm

Remember the Basque “discoveries” from a couple years ago? It seems they were fraudulent. Here’s word from the Guardian.

Mass Movement

Monday November 24th 2008, 1:50 pm

A nice mention of my book The Mass of the Early Christians (scroll down to what she’s reading).

Abu Dhabi Do

Sunday November 23rd 2008, 9:04 pm

Adrian Murdoch reports on the excavation of a Nestorian church and monastery in the UAE. He provides plentiful link and a cool photo.

Egypt Defends Byzantium

Sunday November 23rd 2008, 9:14 am

Al Ahram covers the Byzantium exhibition at London’s Royal Academy (with photos).

Chain Male

Saturday November 22nd 2008, 8:28 pm

Roger Pearse has posted a helpful series about catenas on the gospels. It starts here.

Roger’s also searching the blogosphere for God (rather than religion).

A Taste for Basil

Saturday November 22nd 2008, 8:25 pm

Sister Macrina is trying to coax St. Basil out of the shadows: “Saint Basil has been badly served both in recent academic research on asceticism and also, particularly, in the recent upsurge in popular interest in monasticism.” She quotes from a recent book by Augustine Holmes: A Life Pleasing to God: The Spirituality of the Rules of St. Basil.

A plethora of books have been produced … to enable non-monastics to appropriate the spiritual riches of the rule of St Benedict … Parallel to this academic work there is no popular interest in ‘Basilian Spirituality’. This is both strange and regrettable as Basil’s teaching is scriptural, practical and avoids the ascetic extremism of the Egyptians and Syrians. It also has a strong social and community dimension which should appeal to modern concerns.

My Second Million

Friday November 21st 2008, 12:09 pm

Today I passed the 2,000,000 mark in comment-spam. I’m so deeply moved.

In Memoriam

Thursday November 20th 2008, 11:08 am

Thomas More College has posted a tribute page, with slide show and music, in memory of my friend Father Joseph Linck, Church historian, seminary rector, author, and teacher of patristics. (Background here, here, and here.)

You Say You Want a Revolution

Thursday November 20th 2008, 11:02 am

Adrian Murdoch beat me to announcing a provocative new study: Raymond Van Dam’s The Roman Revolution of Constantine. Adrian discusses shifts in the typological understanding of the emperor and provides excerpts from a review.


Thursday November 20th 2008, 10:58 am

The ancient Ambrosian Rite (think Ambrose of Milan) has revised its lectionary and calendar.

Notes from Underground

Wednesday November 19th 2008, 9:19 pm

Today’s Zaman reports on The Many Underground Cities of Cappadocia: “Cappadocia is the land of odd landscapes and ancient cities carved deep underground. Eruptions from Mt. Erciyes and Mt. Hasan covered the landscape with thick layers of volcanic ash, and this solidified to form the soft tufaceous rock.”

The region was, of course, the home of The Cappadocians, Saints Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus.


When Christianity arrived in the region the remote and often harsh environment appealed to the anchorites who were looking for an ascetic lifestyle, with all the hardships they felt would draw them closer to God. Communities were formed following Saint Basil’s establishment of the rules of monastic life in the fourth century. When groups of raiding Arabs arrived on the scene in the seventh and eighth centuries, the monks and local Christian communities literally went underground to survive. After the establishment of the Ottoman Empire the threat of attack abated and the local inhabitants began to move out of the hidden cities and for many years the dwellings lay undisturbed, with only the topmost layers used by locals for storage and housing for animals.

In the Cappadocia region there are at least 40 of these underground settlements, but few are open to the public. Derinkuyu, with its eight descending levels, gives a good idea of what life down below must have been like. Kaymakli, located 10 kilometers north of Derinkuyu, is smaller in scale and has five levels open. These cities are definitely not for the claustrophobic, as the passageways are narrow and the ceilings tend to be low.