Orvieto Program in Italy

Come Join Us!

Day Trip to Florence

Yes, Florence!

Friendships Grow Better in Italy

The Light is Brighter in Italy

Explore the Past

What a Program

Classical Meets Christian Culture

Application and Registration

  • Application/Registration: Students must classically-educated high school students. You can apply (via a brief online application) and register here: Apply/Register for the Orvieto Program
  • If you apply but don’t register at the same time, use this link to register and/or purchase airfare later: Register and Airfare Only (after having applied)

 

The Society for Classical Learning is partnering with Gordon College’s Studio for Art, Faith & History to offer 20 classical students two weeks of study in the beautiful medieval city of Orvieto, Italy. Let your juniors know about this great opportunity at a very good price! Here are the details:

 

  • Two Week Program/Seminar in Orvieto for SCL high school students
  • Based on the Gordon in Orvieto, semester-long program operated by Gordon College
  • When: July 26 – Aug. 8, 2015
  • Leadership: Jointly-sponsored by the Studio for Art, Faith & History in partnership with SCL
  • Theme: What Does Jerusalem Have to Do with Athens? Students will explore the question: “On what terms have educated Christians over the centuries allowed the classical and the Christian – the Greco-Roman and the Judeo-Christian intellectual heritages – to mix it up in the same classroom?”
  • On-site instruction: Students will live and study in a beautiful, restored monastery in Orvieto, alternating days of study and reflection in Orvieto with excursions to sites evocative for the theme.
  • Staffing: Gordon College provides administrative support and logistics
  • Teaching: Gordon professor Dr. John Skillen collaborates with SCL vice-chair Dr. Chris Perrin
  • Cost: Approximately $1850 for two weeks (not including airfare)
  • Discount: $50 (for registrations prior to April 1)
  • Cancellation Policy: Before April 1, 2015 will receive a 50% refund.  No refund offered after April 1, 2015.
  • Application/Registration: Students must classically-educated high school students. You can apply (via a brief online application) and register here: Apply/Register for the Orvieto Program
  • If you apply but don’t register at the same time, use this link to register and/or purchase airfare later: Register Only(after having applied)
  • Contact person: Christopher Perrin ( perrinchristopher@yahoo.com)

 

Video Showing Images of Orvieto: Click Here

 

Trip Leaders

 

 

 

Christopher Perrin:

Christopher is the SCL Vice-Chair and Publisher and Consultant with Classical Academic Press.  In November 2012, Christopher spent two weeks in Orvieto with the Gordon in Orvieto Program.  He is excited to be leading a trip of classical high school students in partnership with this program.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gail Mitchell:

Gail Mitchell has been a teacher in the School of Rhetoric at New Covenant Schools in Lynchburg, Virginia, for 18 years.  In addition to teaching literature, government, and math, Gail has created and taught both of New Covenant’s foreign study courses, “Cultures of Rome” and “British Heritage,” which culminate in a week-long stay in Rome or London.  Gail also was a 2005 participant in the National Endowment for the Humanities’ summer seminar on Dante’s Divine Comedy held in Siena, Italy. She is delighted to be able to share her love of classical literature and all things Italian with students from other classical Christian schools.

 

Professor and Program Teacher: Dr. John Skillen

John Skillen [Renaissance Narrative] was the medieval and Renaissance specialist in the English department of Gordon College (Ph.D., Duke University) before serving as the inaugural director of the Orvieto program since its inception in 1998. He has served as chairman for both the English and Communication and Theatre Arts Departments, and is a veteran leader of summer seminars in Italy and the British Isles and a number of study-tours and retreats in Italy. Professor Skillen’s interests are broadly in the arts and cultural history, and—as the program vision indicates—he is interested in the renewed relevance of moments in early European culture for the conditions of our present “post-culture.” He is the director of the Studio for Art, Faith & History, edits the Studio’s e-journal, Letters from Europe, and is the founder and co-director with his Orvieto colleague Alessandro Lardani of the annual Festival of Art & Faith held in June each year.

 

Program Details

Tertullian’s question, asked around the year 200, remains as new as it is old: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”

On what terms have educated Christians over the centuries allowed the classical and the Christian – the Greco-Roman and the Judeo-Christian intellectual heritages – to mix it up in the same classroom?

No classical-Christian academy can avoid articulating an apologia for Why Christians Should Read The Pagan Classics – to cite the subtitle of Louis Markos’s recent book, From Achilles to Christ.

What is the Christian mind to make of the rich and sophisticated heritage of classical thought and literature and culture, so full of useful tools of learning, so astute in its exploration and analysis of nature and history, of the human psyche and thepolis, of human artistic endeavors … and yet falling short of a wisdom unto salvation?  Dante’s Virgil can lead the pilgrim only so far.

One thumbnail sketch might mark the Christian response to the classical heritage as unfolding in three phases:

  1. keeping up a strong guard against being drawn back into the pagan culture in which we have been nurtured and from which we have been redeemed;
  2.  keeping in mind the inadequacies of the classical heritage but recognizing the value of various elements of it;
  3.  appreciating the consistencies to the degree of incorporating swathes of the classical heritage into a broader educational and cultural program intended to be thoroughly consonant with Christian faith and theology.

Yet these responses can, and almost always do, find expression in every generation of Christian believers, whether in reacting to Virgil’s Aeneid or Ovid’s Metamorphoses or J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The historic cliff-top town of Orvieto offers an inspirational setting to reflect on this theme.

The town itself is an archeological-architectural palimpsest of the Etruscan, Roman, medieval, and Renaissance strata everywhere present in contemporary Orvieto.

Second, the classical is notably integrated with the Christian in the decoration of the Orvieto Duomo.  One of Europe’s great medieval cathedrals, the Duomo was admired in the Renaissance as unrivaled in its beauty by the noted humanist scholar-pope, Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini – Pius II – when he visited the city in 1463.  The façade is divided by four enormous panels carved in bas-relief in the 1320’s with the themes of the Incarnation from Creation to Final Judgment. Strikingly, a group of pagan philosophers and prophets including Plato and Aristotle and the Sybil are included at the base of the panel of prophetic scenes from the Old Testament.

Finally, one could hardly ask for a richer distillation of our theme than is found in the magnificent fresco cycle of the End Times, Last Things, and Last Judgment in the right transept of the Duomo.  The San Brizio Chapel provides a point of reference both for the classical sources and for three stages of Christian response to the classical heritage: the Late Antique of St. Augustine and the other Doctors of the Church; the medieval of Dante and Thomas Aquinas; and the Christian Humanism of the Renaissance.

Begun by the Dominican painter Fra Angelico, the frescoes were completed by Luca Signorelli in the early 1500’s.  In the decorative lower zone, Signorelli painted fictive windows framing great figures of classical thought and literature including Virgil and Ovid.  Around these portraits are scenes from their writings deemed by Signorelli and his humanist advisors as suggestive parallels foreshadowing the scenes of Christian eschatology unfolding in the enormous murals above them. Dante – the poet who most astutely incorporated the classical heritage into an epic that reinterprets the Homeric and Virgilian “homecoming” stories in Christian terms – is welcomed into their company.

With Signorelli’s visual epic of the telos of humankind as our guide, the texts for the Seminar will include selections from classical writers such as Plato and Aristotle, Virgil, Ovid, and Cicero.  Selections from Augustine’s Confessions and City of God as well as from the writings of Jerome, Boethius, Benedict, and Pope Gregory will provide touchstones for understanding how educated Christians at the end of the Roman epoch responded to the classical heritage out of which they had been converted. Selections from St. Thomas Aquinas and the Divine Comedy of Dante will open a window on the late medieval appropriation of the classical sources.  And selections from Boccaccio’s Geneology of the Pagan Gods and Marsilio Ficino’s moral allegorizing of Venus and the Three Graces as a figure of the true God’s love will help us understand the more syncretistic response to the myths of ancient Greece by the humanist Platonists of the Florentine Renaissance – the circle which exercised strong influence on Signorelli.

As for Excursions, we will hop on the train or into vans for excursions [a] to Rome, especially to see several of the classical edifices turned to Christian use, and artworks such as Raphael’s frescoes covering the walls of for Pope Julius’s library on the four great areas of learning – philosophy, theology, poetry and law – where the dualism of the School of Athens is answered by the Trinitarian unity of the Disputà; [b] to the ancient Roman port of Ostia (where Augustine’s beloved mother Monica dies as the Bishop returned to Africa), [c] to St. Benedict’s places of retreat from classical corruption, from which were born the monastic communities that became the seats of the new learning; and [d] to the town of Pienza, the hometown of the Piccolomini pope, Pius II, refurbished as an ideal Renaissance architectural model of the integration of the classical and the Christian.

 

Calendar (provisional):

Sun 26 July        Arrival and Orientation

Mon 27               Orvieto & Duomo

Tue 28                 Ostia

Wed 29                 #1 classical tradition: dangerous threat; places of compatibility; synthesis

Thur 30                Subiaco

Fri 31                    #2 Jerome & Augustine: the tempting danger of the old ways, and yet

Sat 1  Aug.            #3 Boethius, Benedict, Gregory: preserving, cleansing and baptizing what can be adapted

Sun 2                    Monte Oliveto & Siena & Pienza

Mon 3                    #4 Aquinas and Lorenzetti: converting the ethical tradition

Tues 4                    #5 Dante: converting the narrative tradition

Wed 5                     Rome

Thur 6                    #6 Petrarch, Boccaccio, Ficino: converting via the allegorical tradition

Fri  7                     Bolsena

Sat 8                     Departure

 

Application and Registration

  • Application/Registration: Students must classically-educated high school students. You can apply (via a brief online application) and register here: Apply/Register for the Orvieto Program
  • If you apply but don’t register at the same time, use this link to register and/or purchase airfare later: Register Only