Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quit Popes

Dante had some harsh words for popes who quit. They're not even allowed in Hell:

(28) Whirls on the air forever dirty with it
(29) As if a whirlwind sucked at sand. And I,
(30) Holding my head in horror, cried: “Sweet Spirit,”

(31) What souls are these who run through this black haze?”
(32) And he to me. “These are the nearly soulless
(33) Whose lives concluded neither blame nor praise.

(34) They are mixed here with that despicable corps
(35) Of angels who were neither for God nor Satan,
(36) But only for themselves. The High Creator

(37) Scouraged them from Heaven for its perfect beauty,
(38) And Hell will not receive them since the wicked
(39) Might feel some glory over them.” And I:

(40) “Master, what gnaws at them so hideously
(41) Their lamentation stuns the very air?”
(42) “They have no hope of death,” he answered me,

(43) “and in their blind and unattaining state
(44) Their miserable lives have sunk so low
(45) That they must envy every other fate.

(46) No word of them survives their living season.
(47) Mercy and Justice deny them even a name.
(48) Let us not speak of them: look, and pass on.”

(49) I saw a banner there upon the mist.
(50) Circling and circling, it seemed to scorn all pause.
(51) So it ran on, and still behind it pressed

(52) A never-ending rout of souls in pain.
(53) I had not thought death had undone so many
(54) As passed before me in that mournful train.

(55) And some I knew among them; last of all
(56) I recognized the shadow of that soul
(57) Who, in his cowardice, made the Great Denial.
(58) At once I understood for certain: these
(59) Were of that retrograde and faithless crew
(60) Hateful to God and to His enemies.

Dante's son Jacopo wrote that Dante meant Celestine V, who resigned in 1294 after only five months (of apparently poor administration). He also founded the order of Celestine monks and has since been made a saint. So clearly Dante and the Church had some issues.

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