“The Most Eloquent Singer of the Christian Idea”

So Pope Benedict XV called Dante in his encylical In Praeclara, given on April 30, 1921. It’s a nice letter, really, and short enough to justify reading it if you’re interested in Dante. Of course, the encyclical is interesting as well because the papacy itself had taken the lead in banning and burning Dante’s Monarchia, and then putting it on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1554.

Rome can be pretty slow in recognizing her errors, but the fact that she finally saw fit to rehabilitate Dante (Benedict XV even quotes several times from the Monarchia, which is ruthless in its criticism of the papacy) gives one pause to hope for the future. Rome may be often reactionary and slow to admit her errors, but sometimes she finally does actually get it and fix the problem. Perhaps one day there will be a similar encyclical about other “heretics” who called her to repentance and whom, though she tried her best to bury them, at last could no longer be ignored or vilified.

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