Paradiso Canto XXVII

Paradiso 27

‘Al Padre, al Figlio, a lo Spirito Santo’,
co’To the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
glory,’ cried all the souls of Paradise,
and I became drunk on the sweetness of their song.

vv. 1-3

Denunciation by St. Peter of his degenerate successors. – Dante gazes upon the Earth. – Ascent of Beatrice and Dante to the Crystalline Heaven. – Its nature. – Beatrice rebukes the covetousness of mortals.

As Adam concludes his speech, Heaven erupts into another hymn of praise. For Dante, the sound is “the laughter of the universe,” a song of joy untainted by any sorrow. Suddenly, the soul of Saint Peter turns from white to red and begins uttering a harsh speech against the modern papacy. As the heavens redden around him and Beatrice blushes, Peter recounts the great sacrifices of the early popes, many of them martyrs. He complains of the “ravening wolves” who have occupied the papacy and other high Church offices in Dante’s time. God, he reassures Dante, will soon right these wrongs. With this, the souls change their hue again and sweep upward like flakes of snow. Dante follows them with his eyes until he loses sight of them entirely. He then, at Beatrice’s instruction, once more turns down toward Earth to see how far the Fixed Stars have turned since he arrived. While he is looking back at the solar system, he ascends to the Primum Mobile, the outermost sphere of Heaven. This, Beatrice explains, is the invisible sphere moved directly by the will of God, setting into motion all the rest—stars, planets, sun, and moon. She ends the canto with a speech lamenting humankind’s fall from innocence in great detail, which she construes as a loss of spiritual sight.

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