Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilization

The Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations is a very interesting work-in-progress by students and faculty at Harvard:

Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilization(DARMC) makes freely available on the internet the best available materials for a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) approach to mapping and spatial analysis of the Roman and medieval worlds. DARMC allows innovative spatial and temporal analyses of all aspects of the civilizations of western Eurasia in the first 1500 years of our era, as well as the generation of original maps illustrating differing aspects of ancient and medieval civilization. A work in progress with no claim to definitiveness, it has been built in less than three years by a dedicated team of Harvard undergraduates, graduate students, research scholars and one professor, with some valuable contributions from younger and more senior scholars at other institutions…

You can check the site out and map at Harvard here.


Restoration Project Begins in St Peter’s Square

A massive restoration project has begun in St. Peter’s Square, designed to restore the columns, statues, and moldings to their original vivid colors. The project is expected to take 30 months.

The restoration work has already begun on the columns, designed by Bernini. The work will also include all of the colonnade, the pillars, the fountains, and even the lamps in St. Peter’s Square.

The above was reported on here.

L’Osservatore Romano says that in 30 months, St Peter’s Square will resemble the 1600s.


Army Suicide Rate Hits New High


Just when you’re thinking the Army may have turned the corner on its troops killing themselves, a new number surfaces that dashes those hopes. Friday afternoon the Army said it suffered a record 32 suspected suicides in July, the most since it began releasing monthly data two years ago.

The Army is waging war on suicide just as seriously as it has been fighting for nearly a decade in Afghanistan and Iraq. Commanders are immensely frustrated by their inability to drive down the rate, which is demoralizing and depressing to the troops, their families, and the nation. President Obama has even gotten involved, deciding last month that he would send condolence letters to the families of those service personnel who had killed themselves in combat zones.

Last month’s total — averaging more than one suicide a day — included 22 active-duty troops and 10 reservists. It eclipsed the prior record of 31 set in June 2010. “While the high number of potential suicides in July is discouraging,” said General Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, “we are confident our efforts aimed at increasing individuals’ resiliency, while reducing incidence of at-risk and high-risk behavior across the force, are having a positive impact.”…

Read more here.

Experiencing salvation and the life-renewing power that is found in Christ Jesus is crucial to leading a restored, healed, hope-filled and new life. The role of faith should never be discounted or sold short for fad, innovative, humanist, psychological answers. Unless that is noted and changed, I’m afraid little else will reverse these sad stats.

If you or someone you love needs help, call the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA here.


Germany Marks 50 Years Since Berlin Wall

Construction began on the morning of 13 August 1961:

Germany is marking 50 years since the building of the Berlin Wall when the communist East closed its border, dividing the city for 28 years.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit told a ceremony on Bernauer Street: “The Wall is history but we must not forget it.”

President Christian Wulff spoke after him and Chancellor Angela Merkel was also attending commemorations.

The city will observe a minute of silence at noon (10:00 GMT) in memory of those who died trying to escape.

Earlier, Mr Wulff told Die Welt newspaper that the modern Germany could take pride in “East Germans’ irrepressible desire for freedom and West Germans’ solidarity with them”.

Mrs Merkel, who was raised in the East, is attending the inauguration of a memorial and museum on Bernauer Strasse, which was divided by the Wall.

Soldiers from the East began construction on the morning of 13 August 1961, eventually building a wall that spread for nearly 160km (100 miles).

There were more than 300 watchtowers to prevent escapees.

The BBC’s Stephen Evans in Berlin says the East German authorities portrayed the Wall as a barrier to keep the fascist West out – what came to be known as the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart.

But he says the accepted view now is that it was to keep East German migrants in.

The number of people who died trying to cross the Wall is disputed – at least 136 are known to have been killed but victims’ groups say the true number is more than 700…

The BBC has more here.

There is more (and images like the one above) here:

Citizens of Berlin – including neighbors, friends and family members – were suddenly cut off from each other when construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961. While West Berliners still enjoyed the democratic freedoms of all West German citizens  – including the right to travel anytime – East Berliners were literally “walled off” from their western counterparts for 28 years, until the fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989. Even though they risked paying for it with their own lives, some brave individuals still attempted to flee communist East Germany to find freedom again in the West in various ways – including armored trucks, tunnels and even hot air balloons.

Wikipedia has more on the wall here.


Communion In the Hand is a Calvinist Novelty

Not even Martin Luther would have done it.

So says the Auxiliary Bishop of Astana in Kazakhstan:

In the last century the Old Liberal Bishops promoted hand Communion. They used a historical lie toward this end.

( Present day Communion in the Hand has no roots in the early Church.

This was stressed by Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider (50) of Astana in Kazakhstan on the 19th on the radio station ‘Radio Maria Südtirol’

Msgr Schneider is a Patristic expert.

Hand Communion was contrived “all new” from the Second Vatican Council — the Auxiliary Bishop firmly said.

The antique Church had practiced a completely different form for the reception of Communion.

In that period the hand in which Communion was received was purified before and after.

Additionally, the faithful would take the Body of the Lord from their hand in a disposition of prayer with his tongue:

“If anything it was more of an oral reception of Communion than in the hand”.

After Communion, the communicant had to lick their hands with their tongues, so that even the smallest particle should not be lost.

A Deacon supervised the purification.

The Auxiliary Bishop cotinued: “This concern and care stands in direct opposition to indifference and carelessness with which so called Communion in the hand is dispensed.”

Women never held Communion simply on the flat of the hand.

They spread a white cloth, a manner of corporal over their hand.

Then, they would receive Communion directly to their mouth from the linen cloth.

“That is a tremendous contrast to the present form of Communion in the hand” — insisted Msgr Schneider.

The ancient faithful never took Communion with their fingers: “the gesture of hand Communion was completely unknown in the Church.”…

Read on here.