Vatican City, Oct 12, 2020 / 08:00 am
Pope Francis said Saturday that the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri should inspire people to rediscover the Italian poet’s “Divine Comedy.”
The pope made the remark in an Oct. 10 address to a delegation from the Italian Archdiocese of Ravenna-Cervia, in which he announced that he was preparing “a more extensive reflection” on the leading poet of the late Middle Ages to be released next year.
Dante died in exile in Ravenna, northern Italy, in 1321 after completing the “Divine Comedy,” which describes the poet’s journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven.
A “Year of Dante” was launched in Ravenna Sept. 5 in the presence of Italian President Sergio Mattarella. The year will be marked by events throughout Italy, including in Dante’s birthplace of Florence.
In his address, the pope said he hoped that teenagers, in particular, would engage with the “Divine Comedy,” widely considered to be the greatest poem in the Italian language.
He said: “It may seem, at times, as if these seven centuries have opened up an unbridgeable distance between us, men and women of the postmodern and secularised age, and him, the extraordinary exponent of a golden age of European civilization. And yet something tells us that it is not the case.”
“Teenagers, for instance -- even those of today -- if they have the opportunity to encounter Dante’s poetry in a way that is accessible to them, find on the one hand, inevitably, a great distance from the author and his world, and yet, not the other, they perceive a surprising resonance.”
He continued: “This happens especially where allegory leaves space for the symbol, where the human being appears most evident and exposed, where civil passion vibrates most intensely, where the fascination of that which is true, beautiful, and good, ultimately the fascination of God, makes its powerful attraction felt.”