by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso Theme of Spirituality
In Dante's vision of Heaven, souls do not resemble material bodies, as they do in Hell or Purgatory, but are depicted as rays of light. These lights grow ever brighter the higher up one ascends, because the closer one is to God, the more one reflects His light of love, shining down from the Empyrean. Mortals cannot gaze on the souls past a certain point (for Dante, it is in the Seventh Heaven of Saturn) without being blinded as a result. On Judgment Day, the blessed souls will wear their physical bodies again and shine all the brighter for being complete and for meriting more of God's grace. Finally, these souls sometimes form holy symbols in the sky with their light.
Questions About Spirituality
- Where does the blessed souls' light originate?
- Why does the blessed souls' light become brighter the higher up one ascends? What do the souls' vision have to do with this?
- Why will the blessed shine even brighter once they regain their corporeal bodies on Judgment Day?
- Why can mortal men like Dante not bear the brilliance of the souls beyond a certain point?
Chew on This
The blessed souls' "vision," on which their brilliance depends, is really a measure of how well they understand God's love; thus, one may argue that the contemplative souls (in Saturn) are more worthy than the glorious souls (in Mercury).