Pope Francis did two really cool things

First, yesterday, Pope Francis went to a parish near Ostia (Rome’s ancient port where St. Augustine’s mother, St. Monica, died – today is her feast in the traditional calendar). Before saying Mass, His Holiness heard confessions!

Fathers… hear confession!

Second, the Pope sent a message for the 750th anniversary of the death of Dante.

If you haven’t read the Divine Comedy you just haven’t read enough yet. It is key.

I recommend the translations by either…

Dorothy Sayers



Anthony Esolen


And don’t just read the Inferno and stop.  Go on and read also Purgatorio and Paradiso.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. thomas tucker says:

    Rod Dreher’s new book, How Dante Saved My Life, is an excellent introduction to the Divine Comedy and how it’s lessons can applied practically in one’s life to draw closer to God and thereby find true happiness. I highly recommend it.

  2. MouseTemplar says:

    I agree, reading Purgatorio was enormously refreshing after finishing the Inferno. Purgatorio is full of–guess what!–Mercy!

  3. Flavius Hesychius says:


    What’s your opinion on the Longfellow translation? Yea, or nay?

  4. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “Through his writings, Dante, concluded Pope Francis, is a man who invites us to regain the path of our human journey and the hope to once again see the bright horizon where shines the full dignity of the human person” – the last part of which sounds like a reference to the end of the Paradiso, and so an implicit recommendation concurring with yours, as well as a no-nonsense affirmation that Dante’s art is about life in the fullest sense. (For what it is worth, I would heartly echo that recommendation: my experience (thanks to Dorothy Sayers and Barbara Reynolds) is that, amazingly, the Comedy, from an excellent beginning, gets better and better right to the end!)

    Flavius Hesychius,

    If you will excuse my pitching in before Fr. Z has had opportunity to respond, I’ve enjoyed not only all of Sayers-Reynolds, but also what Esolen and Longfellow I have sampled – I was very grateful for the notes (conveniently canto by canto) in Sayers-Reynolds, but Esolen seems to have good notes, too, in the back of the book, and there are Longfellow editions with notes (in the back) – for example, at the Internet Archive. Sayers-Reynolds in going beyond Longfellow and Esolen in not only being metrical but reproducing Dante’s rhyme-scheme are perhaps extra-enjoyable for that reason.

  5. JonPatrick says:

    I can also recommend the Mark Musa translation which has copious notes in the back that explain the sometimes baffling references to mythology and Italian politics.

  6. Legisperitus says:

    I really enjoyed Sayers & Reynolds, especially Purgatory. Happy to learn that Esolen has done a translation.

  7. DcnJohnSaturus says:

    It’s the 750th anniversary of Dante’s BIRTH this year, not his death.

    What a great great poet. I learned Italian mainly in order to read him, and largely BY reading him.

    Deacon John-Saturus

  8. jameeka says:

    Thank you Father Z. Those were really cool things Pope Francis did!

  9. waalaw says:

    The Great Courses offers an outstanding series of lectures on the Divine Comedy by two professors from SUNY at Geneseo — Dr. William R. Cook and Dr. Ronald B. Herzman. More information is available HERE.

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