‘Their happy countenances and their harmony,
their love and wonder and sweet contemplation
made them a cause for holy thoughts,
The Vanity of worldly desires, – St. Thomas Aquinas undertakes to solve two doubts perplexing Dante. – He narrates the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
In the Fourth Heaven, the Sphere of the Sun, where wise spirits are, St. Thomas goes on speaking. He clarifies a doubt Dante raised after what he said about his Order and Solomon. He says that God tried to help the Church by giving her two guides who might bring her back to the right path.
They are St. Francis and St. Dominic, the founders of the two big monastic orders of the XII century. They aimed at the moral reform of the Christian world. St. Thomas begins praising solemnly both the figure and the work of St. Francis, highlighting the features of the Saint and the most important moments in his action. He remembers when St. Francis gave up all of his possessions to accept absolute poverty and his first disciples.
Once in Rome, the poor man of Assisi received the approval of his order first from Innocent III and then from Honorius III. Eventually, he tried to preach Christ in the East. After this fruitless attempt, he went back to Italy. Two years before his death he received the Stigmata on Mount Verna. St. Thomas ends his speech with a harsh reprimand against the Dominican order, which has forgotten its vow of poverty and is continuously after worldly goods.
The cathedral where Dante’s funeral was held and next to which his remains are still resting is dedicated to Saint Francis. Besides comparing him to a Sun, the famous tercet glorifies his passion for his woman, Poverty, who generates love, wonder and holy thoughts. Being still run by the Franciscan Friars, who have been looking after Dante’s remains for centuries, protecting and preserving them, it is regarded as Dante’s Church and is a must-see for any tourist.
Traduzione a cura della classe 5aC A.S.20/21 del Liceo Scientifico A. Oriani di Ravenna
Canto adopted by Domenico Pazzi e Romina Lenzi
For further information on Basilica di San Francesco