Reflections of an intern: creating the Virtue & Vice app

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There are days to go until the opening of the exhibition “Virtue & Vice” at Hardwick Hall. This will coincide with the availability of an accompanying app for Apple and Android smartphones. This aspect of the project has been a real departure from the norm and, having had the opportunity to play with the beta-version over the weekend, I can honestly say it is thrilling to see all our work coming together. Being available on the iTunes store is, of course, a nice little bonus too!

From its meagre beginnings as a Powerpoint diagram (I discovered I can create a reasonably convincing iPhone using the ‘Draw’ toolbar) the app has become an accessible, rich and, dare I say it, rather stylish resource. With the invaluable help of Nottingham-based developers Rusty Monkey, a wealth of images, informative text and ideas have been pulled together into something that not only supports the exhibition itself, but may also stand alone. I like to think that it will be something to show friends, family, total strangers etc., inspire them to visit Hardwick and encourage them to think about the early modern period in new ways. Continue reading

Update: Magdi Allam

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Magdi Cristiano Allam, the Egyptian naturalized Italian journalist and convert from Islam to Catholicism profiled in an earlier post, made a new announcement on Monday regarding his religious identity.

In it, Allam announces his formal departure from the Catholic church, saying that “I consider my conversion to Catholicism over,” though he continues to consider himself a Christian “and to proudly identify myself with Christianity as the civilization which more than any other moves man closer to God.”

Behind the timing of this move lay the recent abdication of Benedict XVI, who personally baptized Allam on Easter Sunday in 2008, and the subsequent election of Pope Francis, who has called for greater dialogue with the Islamic world. Continue reading

The Medici Press

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In 1584, Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici founded one of the world’s first Arabic printing presses in Rome, an enterprise with a clear missionary purpose: to provide a vehicle for spreading the Catholic faith to the Arabic speaking peoples – Christian and Muslim – of the Near East, and for training native clergy in Rome.

Over the following decades, under the guidance of Giovanni Battista Raimondi, a traveller and student of Eastern languages, the press became a center for the collection, editing, and publication of a range of Arabic and Syriac texts, including a famous edition of the New Testament replete with illustrations of the life of Christ. Continue reading