Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning, with the commemoration in the Senate, there began the events with which all Italy will celebrate the birth of Dante Alighieri (Florence 1265 – Ravenna 1321), the author of “The Divine Comedy”. The Pope participated with a message to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, also present at the ceremony presided over by the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, and attended by the minister for Culture Dario Franceschini and the actor Roberto Benigni, who read Canto XXXIII of Paradise.
“With this message, I wish to join the chorus of those who consider Dante Alighieri to be an artist of the highest universal value, who still has much to say and to offer, through his immortal works, to those who wish to follow the route of true knowledge, of the authentic discovery of the self, of the world, of the profound and transcendent meaning of existence”, writes the Pope.
He notes that many of his predecessors celebrated the anniversaries of Dante with documents of great importance, in which the figure of Dante Alighieri is presented precisely for his continuing relevance and his greatness, not only artistic but also theological and cultural. He cites, among these, Benedict XV who dedicated his encyclical “In praeclara summorum” (1921) to Dante on the sixth centenary of his death, affirming and highlighting “the intimate union of Dante with the See of Peter”. Blessed Paul VI dedicated the Apostolic Letter “Altissimi cantus”, at the closure of Vatican Council II, to Dante, affirming that “Dante is ours! Ours, as in of Catholic faith”. St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI also often referred to the works of the great poet and mentioned him on numerous occasions. Pope Francis added that in his first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei”, he drew upon the “immense patrimony of images, symbols and values that constitute Dante's work”.
On the eve of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Father expresses his hope that during this year the figure of Dante and his work will also accompany us on this personal and community path. “Indeed”, he remarks, “the Comedy may be read as a great itinerary, or rather as a true pilgrimage, both personal and interior, and communal, ecclesial, social and historical. It represents the paradigm of every authentic journey in which humanity is called upon to leave what Dante defines as 'the threshing-floor that makes us so ferocious' to attain a new condition, marked by harmony, peace and happiness. And this is the horizon of every true humanism”.
“Dante is, therefore, a prophet of hope, herald of the possibility of redemption, of liberation, of the profound transformation of every man and woman, of all humanity. He continues to invite us to rediscover the lost or obscured meaning of our human path and to hope to see again the shining horizon on which there shines in all its fullness the dignity of the human person. Honouring Dante Alighieri, as Paul VI has already invited us to do, we are able to enrich ourselves with his experience in order to cross the many dark forests still scattered on our earth and to happily complete our pilgrimage in history, to reach the destination dreamed of and wished for by every man: 'the love that moves the sun in heaven and all the stars'”.