Dante’s Divine Comedy is a wonderful work of poetry and a reflection upon the philosophy and theology of the Church in the High Middle Ages. But, like the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, often missed is its value as a spiritual exercise. Much like St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises and St. Francis de Sale’s Introduction to the Devout Life, the Purgatorio especially functions as a spiritual exercise that, approached with prayer, is a great aid toward removing vices and instilling virtues so that one may more easily cooperate with the grace of God.
Exerpts from the following recognized works of spiritual meditation will be paralleled with passages from Dante’s Purgatorio in support of the thesis statement above.
Thomas Aquinas, S., & Fathers of the English Dominican Province. (2009). Summa theologica (Complete English ed.). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
Teresa of Ávila, S., & Dalton, J. (1852). The Interior Castle. London: T. Jones.
John of the Cross, S., Zimmermann, B., & Lewis, D. (1906). The Ascent of Mount Carmel. London: Thomas Baker.
Ignatius of Loyola, S. (1914). The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola (E. Mullan, Trans.). New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons.
Francis de Sales, S. (1885). An Introduction to the Devout Life. Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son.