Rubrica a cura di Sinclair de Courcy Williams – Talking Dante – Episode 8
Talking Dante. Episode 8
The connection between Dante and St. Francis might just be closer (potrebbe essere più stretto) than you think. It might even be the driving force behind (la spinta motrice dietro) the whole structure of The Divine Comedy.
According to the official ‘legends’, before St. Francis died in 1226, he had given orders (aveva dato ordini) that his body was to be buried (che il corpo dovesse essere tumulato) in the Collis Inferni (Hill of Hell), that is to say (ciò a dire), a hill on the lower part of the city of Assisi, used for hanging (impiccare) criminals, whose dead bodies (i cui corpi morti) would then be left on the gallows (forche) for a certain period before being buried (prima di essere seppelliti) in the same place. As far as I understand it, Franceco was never buried in that way, but it could possibily represent Dante’s Inferno, the zone where spiritual criminals (sinners – i peccatori) are eternally to be damned. The Collis Inferni was privately owned by (era una proprietà private posseduta da) a certain Simone da Pucciarello, who donated it to the church when Francis was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX in 1228, just two years after his death. The very next day (proprio il giorno dopo) construction was initiated in the area of the Collis Inferni on what was later to become the Basilica of St. Francis, which was consecrated in 1253 by Pope Innocent IV. At that point, St. Francis was buried there. Possibly, the building work on the Basilica in that place might represent the climb up (la salita di) Mount Purgatory. Last but not least (ultimo ma non meno imprtante), at a certain point of its construction Pope Gregory IX (who died in 1241) decided to change the name of that hill from Collis Inferni to (yes, you’ve guessed it – si, avete indovinato) Collis Paradisi (Hill of Paradise).
It seems to me that the general plan of the Divine Comedy is very closely linked with the history of the Basilica of St. Francis. Two extraordinary men, an extraordinary poem and an extraordinary building! The woodland around there is still called today la selva di San Francesco (the wood of St. Francis).