The Annual Directors' Meeting of the International Catacomb Society was held on Saturday, 15 September 2018, in a meeting hall generously provided by colleagues at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, MA.
In addition to strategic planning for 2019 and various committee reports (scholarships, finance, website, and archives), elections were held for the society's executive officers and directors for 2018-2021. As a result, the current list of ICS directors reveals two major changes: a new president of ICS, Prof. Annewies van den Hoek, and new director, Jessica Dello Russo, who fills the vacancy left by ICS founding director Florence Z. Wolsky (1923-2018).
Annewies van den Hoek (President) taught Greek and Latin literature at Harvard Divinity School from 1989 until her retirement in 2016 and is now a Research Associate at the Harvard Semitic Museum. She is the author of several monographs, including Clement of Alexandria and Philo (1988), and a critical edition of Clement's Stromateis IV (2001), with another textual commentary in progress on Philo's De Cherubim. In addition to her textual studies, she researches and publishes extensively on ancient art and archaeology. With her husband John Herrmann she organized an exhibition of African Red slip pottery that was shown at Harvard Divinity School and traveled to Austin and New Haven with a catalog entitled: Light From the Age of Augustine. Late Antique Ceramics From North Africa, 2nd edition, University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University, 2003. She co-authored with John Herrmann a book entitled: Pottery, Pavements, and Paradise (2013). Dr. van den Hoek also cooperates in research projects on ancient marbles from North Africa and other areas of the Mediterranean, with grants from the Kress Foundation and American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS). A close colleague of ICS founding director and chairman, Cornelius C. Vermeule, Dr. van den Hoek became involved in the ICS in the 1990's, and has long been one of the most active and influential members of its board.
Jessica Dello Russo (Director) first heard about ICS as a Harvard undergraduate and, not long after college graduation, rang the doorbell of its Beacon Street headquarters to see what was inside. Welcomed by then-society director Amy K. Hirschfeld and archivist Victoria Crammer, she offered on the spot to check up on the Jewish catacomb situation, as she was about to return to Rome, where she had been interning for the Associated Press. Her inquiries sparked a curiosity to learn more about Rome's ancient Jewish sites, and thanks to partial funding from ICS for tuition and travel, Dello Russo completed doctoral work at the Vatican's Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology with research on tomb typologies employed by Jews in Ancient Rome, the preliminary results of which she reported to ICS in the series "Roma Subterranea Judaica". She has been Executive Director of ICS since 2015, and continues to study and publish on the tombs of Jews and others in Italy during Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. She says, "It is a tremendous honor to take Florence's place on the ICS board - I confess that, as a child, I was rather afraid of her - especially when she thought my grubby little hands were closing in on some priceless MFA antique - to someone very young, she could seem most severe, but, later, getting to know her better at the ICS, and working to prepare in its final form the book she helped to write on the catacombs of Rome, it was impossible not to admire Florence's vocation to Classical scholarship and deep loyalty to the society she helped found."
The ICS will not remain Wolsky-less: Florence's son, and ICS president emeritus, Alfred Wolsky, will remain on the board. Collectively, mother and son have given over half a century of dedicated service to ICS.
The International Catacomb Society is a registered 501(c)(3) corporation, founded in 1980 with a registered office in Boston, Massachusetts. The Board of Directors manages the properties and affairs of this non-profit corporation, as stated in the ICS By-Laws (link).
Photo: President of the ICS, Dr. Annewies van den Hoek, and President Emeritus, Alfred Wolsky, Esq.