so that till death they wake and sleep
in union with that Bridegroom who accepts each vow
that love makes fitting for His pleasure.
The Heaven of the Moon. – Spirits whose vows had been broken. – Piccarda Donati. – The Empress Constance.
First Heaven, the Sphere of the Moon: the first blessed souls appear. Their faces are so faint and indistinct that Dante believes they are reflections. They are the Inconstant Spirits, those who did not fulfil their vows. Enjoying a lower order of bliss, these souls are placed in the nearest Sphere to the Earth. The Poet turns to a soul and begs to know her name and the conditions of the spirits. It is Piccarda Donati, sister of Corso and Forese Donati. She says that, although there are different grades of bliss in Paradise, every spirit is completely happy because their ability to be delighted and God’s grace are directly proportional.
If the spirits wished to be higher up, it would be in contrast with God’s will, who put every soul in a different Sphere according to their worth. This is Paradise fundamental precept: bliss is conforming one’s individual will to God’s will. Piccarda then briefly touches upon her life and how she was forced by Corso to leave the cloister and get married. Eventually, she points at Constance of Hauteville – Henry VI’s wife and Frederick II’s mother, who just like her was made to leave the order. Piccarda vanishes while singing “Ave Maria” so Dante turns to Beatrice. Dazzled by her brilliance, he is reluctant to ask further.
Teatro Rasi, which is where Teatro delle Albe brought the Divine Comedy on stage thanks to collective and immersive theatrical events, used to be the Monastic Church of Santa Chiara. Piccarda Donati tells Dante that a higher heaven hosts Saint Clare of Assisi, who founded the order of the Poor Clares. They will watch and sleep beside Christ until they die. The church and the adjacent Franciscan monastery of Santo Stefano in Fundamento were commissioned by Chiara da Polenta. Its fourteenth-century Riminese school frescoes, detached and restored, are now visible at the National Museum of Ravenna.
Traduzione a cura della classe 5aC A.S.20/21 del Liceo Scientifico A. Oriani di Ravenna
Canto adopted by Siderurgica Ravennate
For further information on Santa Chiara (now Teatro Rasi)