Dante: A Prophet of Hope

October 12, 2021

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This year marks the seventh centenary of the death of acclaimed Italian poet Dante Alighieri, whose best-known work, The Divine Comedy, is steeped in a Catholic worldview. The epic poem—in which Dante describes his travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise—remains one of the most enduring pieces of literature, continuing to speak into our current moment and across religious and cultural divides. As Pope Francis explained in a March 2021 apostolic letter

At this particular moment in history, overclouded by situations of profound inhumanity and a lack of confidence and prospects for the future, the figure of Dante, prophet of hope and witness to the human desire for happiness, can still provide us with words and examples that encourage us on our journey.

To mark 700 years since the death of Dante, the Berkley Forum invites contributors to explore the role of Catholic faith in his oeuvre, as well as the lessons Dante provides for the challenges facing global society today. 

This week the Berkley Forum asks: How does the life and work of Dante resonate today? What lessons does Dante provide for dialogue across lines of religious and cultural difference, especially as a Catholic author whose work transcends time and space? How might the Dantean conception of what it means to be human shape our responses to contemporary challenges—from the COVID-19 pandemic and global refugee crisis to rising forms of exclusion worldwide? How might Dante “speak” differently on the seventh centenary of his death in comparison to earlier anniversaries, such as the sixth centenary? In what ways might Dante speak to the “culture of encounter” that Pope Francis has made a focus of his pontificate?  

related Georgetown event | Dante: Searcher and Discoverer

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