The Church of Saint Francis and Dante’s funeral

The waterlogged crypt of Ravenna’s Church of Saint Francis, below sea level, is populated by goldfish that swim placidly in this pool, reminding us of the words Dante wrote to present the first blessed souls he would meet in the last part of his journey in the Afterworld: “As through translucent and smooth glass, or wave
/ Clear and unmov’d, and flowing not so deep
/ As that its bed is dark” (Paradise, III).

Here, quoting Italy’s greatest poet of all times is almost unavoidable: this church – built between the 9th and 10th centuries to replace a more ancient one built around 450 AD – is where Dante’s funeral was held in September 1321, when the building was still dedicated to Saint Peter (and known as Church of San Pier Maggiore).

The whole structure was renovated in the 17th and 18th centuries according to the time’s baroque taste, and later taken back to its original style on the occasion of another event connected to Dante: the 600-year anniversary of his death, in 1921.

Some accounts report that Dante’s funeral was magnificent – but the exiled poet certainly longed for a different kind of greatness, found in “that sea to which all beings move”: Paradise, God’s will, “our peace” (Paradise, III, 85-87).

Photos via:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/patriziagorzanelli/2163903006
http://www.flickr.com/photos/asgeirpedersen/7980256014/
http:///www.flickr.com/photos/ccr_358/8647581151/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ccr_358/8648681368/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/6094733939/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/edk7/8433262627/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/edk7/8433318219/
http:///www.flickr.com/photos/sga77/2165606989/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevs_other_pics/1953553812/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/verlinden/4967681633/
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/21263010

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The Church of Saint Francis and Dante’s funeral

Ravenna
Via Guaccimanni, 12
+39 0544 33256
+39 0544 33256

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