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The Inferno by Dante Alighieri - Barron's Booknotes
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The sun is setting on this Good Friday evening and Dante,
after a brief time with Virgil, begins to lose heart. He tells
Virgil that he is neither Virgil's far-journeying hero, nor St.
Paul, the converted disciple who travelled widely, spreading
Christ's teachings. Virgil tells Dante quite frankly that he is a
coward and that he should be aware of the special notice he is
being given in Heaven. Dante learns that Beatrice visited
Virgil in Hell and asked him, tearfully, to help Dante find his
way, and she did so at the prompting of St. Lucy and the
Virgin herself. Spurred by the tale of Beatrice's goodness and
tears on his behalf, Dante resumes his journey with zest and
feelings of dedication.

It is not an accident that Dante is making his journey on the
weekend before Easter. Christ died on Good Friday and was
buried until his resurrection on Easter Sunday. During that
time, he is said to have descended into Hell and Purgatory.
Christ's resurrection freed sinners from eternal condemnation;
to be freed from his own sin, sloth, Dante too must descend
through sin and understand its nature and its effects on the
soul. In this we see the beginnings of one of Dante's themes,
the necessity for all those who wish salvation to make a like

The Virgin Mary, who gave birth to God in Christ, is often
seen as the symbol of Divine Grace, the power granted by
God that directs the soul on its quest. St. Lucy is the patron
saint of all those with weak sight. Beatrice is Dante's special
inspiration. He may not feel worthy of her attention, but when
this ideal of body and soul beckons, how can Dante refuse?

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The Inferno by Dante Alighieri - Barron's Booknotes

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