Dante Alighieri on St. Francis.

The following is from the 11th Canto of Dante's Paradiso, translated by Mark Musa. The speaker in the passage is the glorified soul of Thomas Aquinas.

Between the Topine and the stream that flows
down from that hill that blest Ubaldo chose,
a fertile slope hangs from a lofty mountain

which sends Prugia gusts of cold and heat
through Porta Sole, and behind it Gualdo
grieves with Nocera for their heavy yoke.

Born on this slope where steepness breaks the most,
a sun rose to the world as radiantly
as thus sun here does sometimes from the Ganges;

thus, when this town is named leet none call it
Ascesi, for the word would not suffice -
much more precise a word is Orient.

Only a few years after he had risen
did his invigorating powers begin
to penetrate the earth with a new strength:

while still a youth he braved his father's wrath,
because he loved a lady to whom all
would bar the door as if to death itself.

Before the bishop's court et coram patre
he took this lady as his lawful wife;
from day to day he loved her more and more.

Bereft of her first spouse, despised, ignored
she waited eleven hundred years and more,
living without a lover till he came,

alone, though it was known that she was found
with Amyclas secure against the voice
which had the power to terrify the world;

alone, though known was her fierce constancy
that time she climbed the cross to be
with Christ, while Mary stayed below alone.

Enough of such allusions. In plain words
take Francis, now, and Poverty to be
the lovers in the story I have told.

Their sweet accord, their faces spread with bliss,
the love, the mystery, their tender looks
gave rise in others' hearts to holy thoughts;

the venerable Bernard was the first
to cast aside his shoes and run, and running
toward such great peace, it seemed to him he lagged.

O unsuspected wealth! O fruitful good!
Giles throws his shows off, then Sylvester too -
they love the bride so much, they seek the groom.

And then this father, this good lord, set out
with his dear lady, and that family
that now was girded with the humble cord.

It mattered not that he was born the son
of Bernardone, nor did he feel shame
when people mocked him for shabbiness;

but he announced, the way a king might do,
his hard intent to Innocent who gave -
the seal establishing his holy Order.

The souls who followed him in poverty
grew more and more, and then this archimandrite -
whose wonder-working life were better sung

by Heaven's highest angels - saw his work
crowned once again, now by Honorius
through inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Then in the haughty presence of the Sultan,
urged by a burning thirst for the matyrdom,
he preached Christ and his blessed followers,

but, finding no one ripe for harvest there,
and loath to waste his labors, he returned
to reap a crop in the Italian fields;

then on bare rock between Arno and Tiber
he took upon himself Christ's holy wounds,
and for two years he wore this final seal.

When it pleased Him who had ordained that soul
for such great good to call him to Himself,
rewarding him on high for lowliness,

he, to his brothers, as to rightful heirs,
commended his most deeply cherished lady,
commanding them to love her faithfully;

and in the lap of poverty he chose
to die, wanting no other bier - from there
that pristine soul returned to its own realm.


Liturgy Archive

Liturgical Year

Daily Devotionals


Bibles & Reference


Other Reading



shopify site analytics