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A Year in the Red

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.

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A Taste for Basil

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.

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Notes from Underground

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.