Bestselling historian Thomas Cahill and 12 leading thinkers will convene at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus on Friday, May 30, and Saturday, May 31, to challenge conventional approaches to art, religion and culture in the Middle Ages and to assert that era’s relevance to the present.

Representing a wide range of disciplines and perspectives—including intellectual and art history, law, religious studies, curatorship and liturgy—the scholars will speak at “Seeing the Medieval,” a two-day symposium organized by the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture and the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA).

Free and open to the public, the symposium will be held in conjunction with an exhibition at MOBIA, “Realms of Faith: Medieval Art from the Walters Art Museum.”

A panel discussion titled “Why the Medieval Matters” will open the symposium at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 30, with an examination of contrasts and parallels between the Middle Ages and the 21st century—two eras of intense religious passions, clashing cultures, traumatic economic changes, wars, persecutions and astounding breakthroughs in ideas and imagination.

Chaired by Peter Steinfels, co-director of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture and religion columnist for The New York Times, the panel will include distinguished historians and scholars of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The keynote speech, at 6 p.m. on Friday, will be delivered by Thomas Cahill, acclaimed author of How the Irish Saved Civilization (Anchor Books, 1996).

Cahill will develop ideas from his Mysteries of the Middle Ages (Talese, 2006), in which he argues that medieval ideas, art, literature and religious movements gave birth to a vision that remains at the heart of Western civilization—from the entry of women into previously forbidden professions to alchemical investigations that would form the basis of experimental science.

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP to [email protected] or call (212) 636-7347.


Gina Vergel is Senior Director of Communications. She oversees the digital news coverage, public relations, and social media for the university. Before joining Fordham in 2007, Gina worked as a reporter for the Home News Tribune, and The Ridgewood News, where she won Society of Professional Journalist (New Jersey chapter) awards for breaking news and feature writing, respectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (646) 579-9957.