Pope Francis sent a message on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the birth of Dante Alighieri. The famed Italian poet is best known for his master piece “The Divine Comedy”.
The message was sent to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who was present at a ceremony presided by President Sergio Mattarella.
“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,” the Holy Father wrote.
The Pope cited several of his predecessors who held Alighieri and his literary works in high esteem. This connection, he said, highlights “the intimate union of Dante with the See of Peter.”
Pope Francis also noted that his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, drew from the “immense patrimony of images, symbols and values that constitute Dante’s work.”
The 78 year old Pontiff went on to say that he hopes Dante’s works will “accompany us” on the path towards the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
“This,” he noted, “is the horizon of every true humanism.”
Calling Dante a “prophet of hope” and a herald of the possibility of redemption”, the Pope said that the Italian poet’s work continues to call out and “invite us to rediscover the lost or obscured meaning of our human path.”
Concluding his message, Pope Francis recalled the words of honor to Dante written by Blessed Paul VI, in which he invites the faithful to “reach the destination dreamed of and wished for by every man: ‘the love that moves the sun in heaven and all the stars.'”