Summer Hall home



Dante: The Divine Comedy

July 23-27


"The Divine Comedy is precisely the drama of the soul's choice. It is not a fairy-story, but a great Christian allegory, deriving its power from the terror and splendor of the Christian revelation. Clear, hard thought went to its making: its beauty is of that solid and indestructible sort that is built upon a framework of nobly proportioned bones... The grim substructure is only there for the sake of the city whose walls and spires stand up and take the morning; it is for the vision of God in the Paradiso that all the rest of the allegory exists."  --Dorothy Sayers


Read about the overall purpose of Hill Abbey's Summer Hall here.

This year's Hill Abbey Summer Hall is one week devoted to one of the greatest poems in western civilization. Dante originally called it simply The Comedy, the adjective "divine" being added by later readers as a mark of their supreme admiration. C. S. Lewis considers it, along with Aquinas's Summa Theologica, to be the greatest exemplar of the medieval architectonic mind - the characteristic medieval love of system, plenitude, order, harmony, and beauty, all attributes of a universe created infinitely good, full, and beautiful by a unifying Creator; and all attributes of this great poem, a microcosm of the universe it depicts and of the Christian age out of which it arose.

The week will begin with introductory lectures on medieval history and theology in general and on Dante and his world in particular. Then we will read the poem in its entirety - Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise in all their glory - aloud, together, with plenty of time for discussion; and at night around the bonfire we'll observe the stars to which Dante's poem constantly looks up. And we'll conclude the week with some readings by C. S. Lewis and others who were heavily influenced by Dante. By the end of the week Dante will be a close friend.

Who may attend:

Anyone who is at least 16 by the beginning of the course, on up through adults (parents are welcome!) and who has a strong interest in and love of classical literature or history, especially church history, is welcome to inquire. No knowledge of medieval history and philosophy is necessary; that will be covered in the introductory lectures.


July 23-27

Hill Abbey, near Potlatch, Idaho. Our address is 1690 Rock Creek Rd., Potlatch ID, but Google Maps has not caught up yet; to see our location and find directions on Google Maps, use this address: 3002 Rock Creek Road, Potlatch ID.

The sessions start promptly each day at 9 a.m. The last official session concludes on Friday at 5 p.m. See the "daily schedule" below for full details.

Meals and Housing:

All meals are provided: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks and drinks. Please be sure to alert us as to any food allergies (or other medical issues) you might have.

You will stay right here on the Callihan farm,
and we make every effort to provide a comfortable and peaceful environment. Bedding, pillows, towels, and washcloths will be provided.

What to Bring:

1. Clothing: North Idaho in summer is warm during the day (80s-90s) and cool at night (40s-50s) with low humidity. Bring light casual clothing (shorts, tees, sandals, etc.) for warm weather, but include a sweatshirt, long pants or casual skirt, and tennis shoes/light hiking shoes, etc. for cool evenings and walking.

2. Personal toiletries: all the usual, including soap, shampoo, allergy medication, etc. Bedding, pillows, towels, and washcloths will be provided.

3. Bible and any free time reading.

4. Notebook (the Moleskin ruled journal, large, is ideal) and pens or pencils.

5. Anthony Esolen's translation of The Divine Comedy, published by Modern Library. You can find it on Amazon in paperback or hardback. Order this as soon as possible to be sure you have it in time.

6. Camera

7. Cell phones and laptops: phones must be turned off and put away during reading and quiet hours. You may bring a laptop if you wish; we have wireless internet access. Remember that the spirit of Hill Abbey is to avoid such distractions as much as possible.

Cost and registration:

IF you room here at Hill Abbey the fee is $450 per person. Additional members of the same family (siblings, spouses, or parent or child) receive a $150 discount. The fee covers tuition, room, and meals. If you need transportation to and from the Spokane WA or Lewiston ID airport we can provide that for an additional fee of $50 (the shuttle services charge at least $70 round trip).

IF you live nearby (Moscow, etc.) and will commute to Hill Abbey each morning, the fee will only be $350 per person (with a $120 discount for each additional family member). All meals will be provided except breakfast. Please arrive by 8:45 a.m. each morning.

TO REGISTER: First contact Hill Abbey using the form at the bottom of this page, for space availability. After you receive confirmation of your acceptance, a deposit of $100 per person is required at time of registration in order to hold your place. The balance will be due by June 15, 2012. Make checks out to Wes Callihan and mail to P. O. Box 546, Potlatch ID 83855. Or you may use the PayPal button at the bottom of this page (ignore everything else on that page).

Daily Schedule

Medieval History
and Thought,
especially the Cosmos




Lewis, Sayers, and Williams on Dante
Break Break Break
Medieval Theology,
especially Aquinas




Special lecture by Doug Jones: Influence of
medieval mysticism on Dante
Trappist Hour
Trappist Hour Trappist Hour Trappist Hour Trappist Hour
Lunch and
free time
Lunch and
free time
Lunch and
free time
Lunch and
free time
Lunch and
free time
Dante's Life,
especially Beatrice




Dante's influence /
Last words
Break Break Break (Trappist Hour)*
Reading the Poetry




Free time* (wine, cheese, cigars, strolling about)
Trappist Hour Trappist Hour Trappist Hour Trappist Hour (Dinner)*
Dinner Dinner Dinner (Bonfire)*
Bonfire Bonfire Bonfire

*Although the events officially end at 5 on Friday afternoon, any who would like to stay for these last three events are welcome to.