A Reason to Celebrate
The portico of the Sacred Convent of Assisi overlooks Perugia and the entire Valley of Spoleto. It is a place so dear to us friars that it feels like home. There is a plaque mounted there, quoting lines from Dante Alighieri’s Paradiso, describing the beauty of the hillside.
In the voice of the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas, an entire Canto of Paradiso is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. (Part of the following Canto has the Franciscan St. Bonaventure praising St. Dominic.)
The commemoration of Dante and his Divine Comedy is more than celebrating one of the most important works of literature. Pope Francis said he hoped it would
In 1965, commemorating the birth of Dante, St. Pope Paul VI claimed that Dante is ‘ours,’ meaning he belongs to the Catholic Faith. The Pope also noted that although Dante had a firm faith, in the Comedy he “lashed out severely against more than one Roman Pontiff.”
In a similar way, Franciscans can claim that Dante is ‘ours.’ He loved St. Francis (the only person to whom he dedicated an entire Canto), but he also loved the Franciscan family and did not spare them from harsh reproach for having distanced themselves from the Poverello’s ideals.
Therefore, he is ‘ours’ not in an egoistic sense, but in challenging us to listen to his voice and making it resound again, echoing St. Pope John Paul II in that Dante’s: