The beauty that I saw transcends
all thought of beauty, and I must believe
only its maker may savor it all.
Ascent to the Empyrean.—The River of Light.—The celestial Rose.—The seat of Henry VII.—The last words of Beatrice.
After the disappearance of the bright Point and the nine rotating levels of the angelic hierarchy, Dante turns again towards Beatrice. To him she is beautiful beyond words. Resuming her talk, Beatrice explains to her disciple that they are no longer in the Primum Mobile, the last of the nine Heavens, and that they have ascended to the Empyrean. This is where God dwells and where both “ranks” of Paradise, the angels and the blessed souls, enjoy eternal beatitude – the latter already having the same appearance they will have on Doomsday, when they get their bodies back.
After being blinded by the brightness of the Empyrean, the Poet realises that his eyes can now withstand the most brilliant light. Initially, Dante sees a river of light flowing between two flowering riverbanks. Countless sparks rise from the river and fall on the flowers to then return to the marvellous vortex they come from. Beatrice explains that this vision is just a shadowy preface to what is really happening, something Dante cannot fully understand due to his human intellection.
When his sight regains strength, the Poet realises that the river is no longer straight, but round, and the flowers and sparks are nothing but blessed saints and angels, respectively. His vision gets even clearer: the Empyrean is in the shape of an amphitheatre whose seats are occupied by Saints. Dante notices a crown atop an empty seat. Beatrice tells him that the seat is reserved for Henry VIII, the emperor who will try fruitlessly to end political fights all over Italy and who will find in pontiff Clement V his toughest opponent.
The Church of S. Vitale best represents the Beauty Dante evokes. It is one of the most beautiful churches in the world. The splendour of its mosaics, columns, marble hues, architecture, frescoes, perspectives and volumes, all of this makes this Church an extraordinary example of the immanent manifestation of Beauty, which is evocative of the Heavenly Beauty everyone must aspire to.
Traduzione a cura della classe 5aC A.S.20/21 del Liceo Scientifico A. Oriani di Ravenna
Canto adopted by Publimedia Italia
For further information on Basilica di San Vitale