Dante’s Plea to return the Papacy to Rome

As we saw in an earlier post about Dante Alighieri’s letter to the Italian Cardinals in 1314, where he defended himself against the charge that he was metaphorically touching the Holy Ark with his criticisms of the Church, the main thrust of his Epistle XI is however directed more towards high-level politics, and an effort to encourage the Italian Cardinals to elect an Italian Pope and start the process of returning the Papacy back to its original place, to remove it from Avignon in France, and back to its home place in Rome. Continue reading “Dante’s Plea to return the Papacy to Rome”

The Eternal and Limitless Nature of the Spiritual Realm

In this post we’ll look at how Dante expresses the nature of the Divine and Existence itself in one single verse line, in Purgatory Canto 10.

But first, it’s helpful to remember that one of the main overall goals through the second book of Dante’s Divine Comedy is to open up and increase the understanding of the Spiritual Realm, for which the virtue of Intellectual Humility is an essential key, and where the Dream and the Gate in Canto 9 are the main thresholds to begin this process. Continue reading “The Eternal and Limitless Nature of the Spiritual Realm”

Dante’s Relationship to Scripture, and to the Church

While Dante is sometimes thought to be attacking both the Church and Christendom itself in the Divine Comedy, it could be helpful to clarify and separate Dante’s very positive relationship to the Scripture and to the Spiritual Life, from his negative and at times aggressively hostile one towards the contemporary Church and the Institution of the Papacy in the 13th and 14th century.

Dante himself was therefore sometimes accused by the Church of having assumed the role of Uzzah from the Old Biblical stories, who touched the Holy Ark whilst in transportation from Abinadab to Jerusalem with a cart and oxen, and who was struck dead at the spot in 2 Samuel 6:6-7: Continue reading “Dante’s Relationship to Scripture, and to the Church”

The Cardinal Virtues of Purgatory

Starting now on our 5th reading of Purgatory on this website – we’re seeing the opening of the second book with even more clarity than last time. The bigger and more hidden background of the Paradiso is clearly felt, but the Journey starts more carefully with some smaller and practical steps. Here are the four Cardinal Virtues of Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance and Justice being introduced:

The rays of light from those four sacred stars
struck with such radiance upon his face,
it was as if the sun were shining there.

when Cato, the Guardian of the Mountain appears to the Pilgrim and Virgil. Continue reading “The Cardinal Virtues of Purgatory”

Before the Empyrean – the 10th Heaven

We’ve just finished the Primo Mobile and the 9th Sphere again, and we’re trying to digest what is really happening there; in a sense how the Inferno and Purgatory, which are both on Earth, and then eight more spheres in Paradiso, are all wrapped together in the Primo Mobile as just consequences of motion itself, which spreads out from the calm center of the nature of the Universe, and also creates Time.

It’s a bit like 94 cantos are all wrapped together into a point or idea or concept of Motion, before we reach that which embeds this point, and thus also embedding the totality of the Creation and cosmos as well. Continue reading “Before the Empyrean – the 10th Heaven”

The Creation of the Angels

In Canto 29, Dante describes the origins of the Angelic Beings, as Beatrice can see in the Eternal Mind that the Pilgrim has some questions.

Firstly, the argument is that the Angels were created in order to reflect and “resplendor” the Divine Glory throughout all of Being and Existence (“Subsisto”), in their different natures. Therefore “new loves blossomed from the Eternal Love”.

Secondly, as for the “when”, Beatrice explains that the Angels, the Heavens and the Earthly were all created at the same time, like “three arrows from a three-stringed bow.” This threefold creation was “rayed into existence all at once, without beginning, with no interval.” Continue reading “The Creation of the Angels”

The Sun, and the Fixed Stars

Reading the Paradiso for the third, and now the fourth time, has been a fully different experience from the first journey through the spheres up to the Empyrean. The narrative seems even less structured than in the other two books, which is partly suggested by the idea that all the souls are living in the Empyrean, but things are reflected into nine spheres to accommodate the nature of the Pilgrim’s intellect and capability for comprehension. But what stands out after the reading of the first 8 spheres, is how deep and rich the Sun and the Fixed Stars are on theology, and in a blend with philosophy. They are also the two biggest spheres in the book, with 4,5 Cantos for the Sun, and 5 full Cantos (mid 22 to mid 27) for the Fixed Stars. Continue reading “The Sun, and the Fixed Stars”