St Peter, Beatrice and Dante
From Paradiso xxv:
Toward us mov'd a light, at view whereof My Lady, full of gladness, spake to me: "Lo! lo! behold the peer of mickle might, That makes Falicia throng'd with visitants!" As when the ring-dove by his mate alights, In circles each about the other wheels, And murmuring cooes his fondness; thus saw I One, of the other great and glorious prince, With kindly greeting hail'd, extolling both Their heavenly banqueting; but when an end Was to their gratulation, silent, each, Before me sat they down, so burning bright, I could not look upon them. Smiling then, Beatrice spake: "O life in glory shrin'd!" Who didst the largess of our kingly court Set down with faithful pen! let now thy voice Of hope the praises in this height resound. For thou, who figur'st them in shapes, as clear, As Jesus stood before thee, well can'st speak them." "Lift up thy head, and be thou strong in trust: For that, which hither from the mortal world Arriveth, must be ripen'd in our beam." Such cheering accents from the second flame Assur'd me; and mine eyes I lifted up Unto the mountains that had bow'd them late With over-heavy burden. "Sith our Liege Wills of his grace that thou, or ere thy death, In the most secret council, with his lords Shouldst be confronted, so that having view'd The glories of our court, thou mayst therewith Thyself, and all who hear, invigorate With hope, that leads to blissful end; declare, What is that hope, how it doth flourish in thee, And whence thou hadst it?" Thus proceeding still, The second light: and she, whose gentle love My soaring pennons in that lofty flight Escorted, thus preventing me, rejoin'd: Among her sons, not one more full of hope, Hath the church militant: so 't is of him Recorded in the sun, whose liberal orb Enlighteneth all our tribe: and ere his term Of warfare, hence permitted he is come, From Egypt to Jerusalem, to see. I turn'd, but ah! how trembled in my thought, When, looking at my side again to see Beatrice, I descried her not, although Not distant, on the happy coast she stood.
|St Peter Beatrice and Dante with St. James also|
Blake Illustrations of Dante
Eighth Sphere (The Fixed Stars: Faith, Hope, and Love)
The sphere of the Fixed Stars is the sphere of the church triumphant. From here (in fact, from the constellation Gemini, under which he was born), Dante looks back on the seven spheres he has visited, and on the Earth (Canto XXII):
Here, Dante sees the Virgin Mary and other saints (Canto XXIII). St. Peter tests Dante on faith, asking what it is, and whether Dante has it. In response to Dante's reply, St. Peter asks Dante how he knows that the Bible is true, and (in an argument attributed to Augustine) Dante cites the miracle of the Church's growth from such humble beginnings (Canto XXIV):
Finally, St. John questions Dante on love. In his reply, Dante refers back to the concept of "twisted love" discussed in the Purgatorio (Canto XXVI):
St. Peter then denounces Pope Boniface VIII in very strong terms, and says that, in his eyes, the Papal See stands empty (Canto XXVII).