Some might say the most awe-inspiring and impressive Catholic churches are built with high ceilings, vast arches, and soaring spires. However, impressive churches can be found in the unlikeliest of places. One such place is the Cappadocia region of Turkey where magnificent ancient churches are carved from the unique rock formations there.

Around 2.6 million years ago, Mount Erciyes erupted in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. In the wake of its destruction, lava and ash cooled into soft rocks that covered a region of almost 8,000 square miles. Wind and water eventually eroded away the newly deposited sediments, leaving behind only soft rock that was prime for carving and shaping.

During the intense religious persecution by the Romans in the third century, early Christians flocked in droves to the Cappadocia region to find refuge and safety. When they arrived, they found the rock formations and made the realization they could easily be carved to form houses, churches, and monasteries. They created entire underground cities and safe hiding places. At least six cave churches were carved out of the rock, along with countless homes, tunnels, and passageways. These churches collectively became known as the Churches of Göreme. Lining the churches are beautiful frescoes depicting classic subjects such as the Nativity, Baptism of Christ, and the Last Supper.

The refuge early Christians took in the cave churches spurred a period of great advancement in early Christian theology. The Cappadocian Fathers, Saints Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzius lived in and around the Cappadocian region. There they greatly advanced the early development of Christian theology, such as doctrine regarding the Trinity, and became highly respected saints.

Sadly, like during the Roman persecution that caused people to seek refuge in this area of modern-day Turkey, due to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, there are large numbers of displaced people seeking refuge again. That’s why the Catholic Church works to help the millions of displaced peoples and refugees across the world find safety and housing.

Using the most cutting-edge technology, the Pontifical Mission Societies have created MISSIO, a new and innovative Catholic crowd-funding platform that allows you to directly help provide aid and assistance to the poorest areas around the world with the most need.

By donating through MISSIO, you can help the Pontifical Mission Societies in Turkey raise funds to support the parishes that are housing refugees. $5,000 dollars provides enough money to house an entire family for a full year in Turkey.

MISSIO also helps you reach those suffering because of drought and food shortages in Ethiopiachildren without a home in the Philippinesa community in need of clean water in Kenya, or students in need of desks and supplies in South Sudan.  Choose one of these missions of Pope Francis knowing that 100% of your donation will go directly there. Share about it on social media so others can support the projects also.

MISSIO is powered by The Pontifical Mission Societies, the Catholic Church’s official support organization for overseas missions since 1822, providing for a global network of people who are making a difference for communities in need around the globe.

Check out MISSIO today and start giving!

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