The Divine Comedy is arguably the greatest poem ever written. It is also profoundly Catholic to its theological and philosophical core. Its author, Dante Alighieri, spent over ten years writing it, completing it a year before his death in 1321. It is fitting, therefore, that we should celebrate this finest of poetic masterpieces on the 700th anniversary of the death of its illustrious composer.
Dante was an avid disciple of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, the preeminent of all Catholic theologians and philosophers, and it is no surprise, therefore, that St. Thomas’ theological and philosophical presence animates the poem from start to finish.
The poem is narrated in the first person by Dante himself, who appears, as it were, as a character in his own imaginative work. It serves as a memento mori, a reminder of death, prompting the poet and his readers to contemplate the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.