Paradiso Canto XXIX

Paradiso 29

‘See now the height and breadth of the Eternal Worth,
one light, which shines dispersed among
so many mirrors yet remains
in Itself one, just as It was before.’

vv. 142-145

Discourse of Beatrice concerning the creation and nature of the Angels.—She reproves the presumption and foolishness of preachers.

Beatrice now gives an account of the Creation. God, she declares, created the universe in an act of pure expansive joy, not to meet a need or satisfy a preexisting desire. Angels were created at the same time as the physical universe, but the Fall began with a rebel angel (Lucifer), humankind becoming involved only later. Then, weighing in on a contemporary theological dispute, Beatrice describes some aspects of angelic consciousness. Angels, she says, have intelligence and free will—but not memory, which would be superfluous since they live in eternal contemplation of God. Having shed light on these mysteries, Beatrice speaks out against theologians and preachers who are “swept / along by show and love of showy thoughts.” These would-be philosophers, she charges, are so preoccupied with trivial theological issues that they neglect the message of the Gospels. Worse, they turn their sermons into performances designed to amuse or impress, perverting Christian preaching from its true purpose. She closes her speech with some remarks on the innumerability of the angels.

Riassunto in inglese tratto da

Sant'Apollinare in Veclo

Dante deals with the theology of Angels in Canto XXIX. He uses a wonderful metaphor according to which God’s eternal power is reflected in the Angels as light is in a multitude of mirrors: still one, albeit perceived differently by each of these angelic beings. It is thus easy to associate this image with the Capuchin Poor Clares and their Convent, which is close to the Church of St Apollinaris in Veclo. In fact, God’s love pervades the order and the contemplative life the nuns have embraced.

Sant'Apollinare in Veclo

Canto adopted by Gabriella De Carlo Gualandi

For further information on Monastero delle Clarisse Cappuccine

View Dante’s itinerary on the map

Available Resources

Reading of the Canto