5 Eve, who wounded the human race with her
sin, sits at the feet of Mary who healed the wound with the ointment of her Son.
8 Rachel, Jacobs younger wife, was
clear-sighted and symbolizes the contemplative life. Sarah, Abrahams wife, bore
Isaac; Rebecca, Isaacs wife, was the mother of Esau and Jacob: the two women
represent the ancestry of all believers. Judith slew Holofernes and saved the Jewish
people. Ruth, Boazs wife, was the great-grandmother of the psalmist King David.
31 Saint John the Baptist fasted in the
desert and was later beheaded by Herod Antipas. Saint Francis of Assisi was seen in Canto
XI and Saint Benedict in Canto XXII. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) founded Western
theology with his works on the Trinity, free will, the soul, his Confessions, and City
68 Jacob and Esau, twin sons of Rebecca and
Isaac, were rivals; God showed his favor to Jacob (Genesis 25:22-26).
84 As seen in Inferno
unbaptized infants are assigned to Limbo.
95 In position and posture, the archangel
Gabriel eternally re-enacts the moment of his annunciation to Mary.
121 Adam sits on the left of Mary while
Saint Peter sits on the right (l. 124).
127 Saint John the Evangelist saw visions
of calamities for the Church which he recorded in Revelation.
131 Moses, who led the Israelites out of
Egypt, sits next to Adam.
133 Anna is the mother of the Virgin Mary.
137 Lucia or Lucy, the patron saint of
light and sight was one of the three ladies who first interceded for Dante (Inferno II, 86-105), sits opposite Adam.
absorbed in his Delight,
contemplative took up the teachers part
and said these holy words:
wound that Mary closed and healed with ointment
Had been opened and pierced through by the person
sits, so beautiful, there at her feet.
in the third row of the circling seats
her, as you witness for yourself,
in her throne sits next to Beatrice.
10 "Sarah and Rebecca, there, with Judith
Ruth, the great-grandmother of the singer
in remorse cried, Lord, have mercy on me!:
you may see ranked downward tier by tier
called out the names of each of them
15 From petal down to petal through the rose.
from the seventh row on down, right up
the end, Hebrew women form a line
parting all the tresses of the flower:
by the way that faith once looked to Christ,
20 These women are the wall of that partition
separates in two the sacred stairway.
one side, where the flower is full blown
all its petals, seated on their thrones
all those who had faith that Christ would come.
25 "On the other side, where you see semicircles
by empty spaces, sit all those
turned their faces to Christ who had come.
as, on this side, the high throne of glory
heavens Lady, with the other seats
30 Below it, forms so vast a parting line,
facing her, the seat of the great John
always saintly, suffered wilderness
martyrdom, and then hell for two years,
the same line with those assigned below him:
35 Francis, Benedict, Augustine, and others
the way here from circle down through circle.
wonder at the depth of providence,
each of these two aspects of the faith
equal portions shall fill up this garden.
40 "And know as well that, downward from the row
cuts in half the two dividing lines,
souls are seated not for their own merits,
for some others, under set conditions,
all of these are spirits who were freed
45 Before they had the power of true choice.
can observe it clearly in their faces
in their childrens voices, if you look
at them and listen to them.
are confused now, and in your confusion
50 Keep still, but I will loosen the hard knots
which your subtle thoughts have tied you up.
the spacious compass of this kingdom
particle of chance can have a place,
more than sorrow can, or thirst or hunger,
55 "Because whatever you see is established
everlasting law, so that the match
the ring to the finger perfectly.
so this group of children, hurried to
life, is not without good reason ranked
60 Higher or lower here among themselves.
King, through whom this kingdom comes to rest
much love and in so much delight
no ones will would dare to demand more,
all minds in his joyous sight,
65 Endows each differently with grace, at pleasure
himself and here let that fact suffice.
Holy Scripture plainly and expressly
this fact for you in the twin sons
anger roused them in their mothers womb.
70 "The highest light must crown them, then, with halos
to the color of their hair
is, the worth of such grace as they have).
the merit of their own works, therefore,
infant souls are placed at different steps
75 By differing only in original gifts.
early times, the faith of their own parents
together with their innocence,
found to be enough for their salvation.
that first period was completed,
80 Then circumcision was prescribed for males
impart power to their innocent wings.
after the new age of grace arrived,
lacking perfect baptism in Christ,
innocents were held back there below.
85 "Look now upon the face most like to Christ
its brightness all alone possesses
power to prepare you to see Christ."
rain down upon her face such joy
carried by those pure intelligences
90 Created to soar through that altitude
whatever wonders I had seen before
not held me suspended in such awe
showed me such an image like to God.
that same Love who first flew down to her,
95 Singing there, "Hail Mary, full of grace,"
spread his wings out wide in front of her.
every side the blessed court responded
warmly to the canticle of heaven
with the song each face grew more serene.
100 "O holy father, for my sake enduring
down here and leaving the sweet spot
by eternal lot you sit enthroned,
is that angel who with such pure joy
into the eyes of our own Queen,
105 So full of love that he seems all aflame?"
once more I returned to the instruction
him who drew his beauty down from Mary,
as the morning star draws from the sun,
he told me, "Braveheartedness and charm,
110 As much as soul or angel can possess them,
all in him, and we want it that way,
he is the one who brought the palm
to Mary, when the Son of God
to take up the burden of our flesh.
115 "But let your eyes now come while I walk on
and take note of the mighty peers
this most just and reverential empire.
two who sit above there, happiest
being seated nearest to the Empress,
120 Are, in a way, the two roots of this rose.
one who sits beside her on the left
the same father through whose reckless tasting
human race tastes so much bitterness.
the right side you see the ancient father
125 Of holy church, to whom Christ gave in trust
keys to this fair incandescent flower.
that saint who, before his death, saw all
times of hardship of the lovely bride
was won with the spear and with the nails
130 "Sits by his side. And by the first father
leader rests whose people lived on manna,
stubborn, fickle, and ungrateful flock.
from Peter you see Anna sitting,
happy to be gazing on her daughter
135 She does not lift her eyes to sing Hosannah.
opposite the eldest family father
sits, who stirred your lady when
head was nodding downward, to your ruin.
since the time when you would slumber flies,
140 We will stop here just like a skillful tailor
cuts the coat according to his cloth
we will turn our eyes to the First Love,
gazing toward Him, you may penetrate
far as possible through His refulgence.
145 "But to prevent the chance you may fall backward,
your wings while thinking to fly forward,
now need to acquire grace through prayer:
from her hands who has the power to help you.
you shall follow me so with your love
150 That your heart will not wander from my words."
he began to say this holy prayer: