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[118] only in the solitary exaltations of the soul. This is the high moral of Dante's poem. We have likened it to a Christian basilica; and as in that so there is here also, painted or carven, every image of beauty and holiness the artist's mind could conceive for the adornment of the holy place. We may linger to enjoy these if we will, but if we follow the central thought that runs like the nave from entrance to choir, it leads us to an image of the divine made human, to teach us how the human might also make itself divine. Dante beholds at last an image of that Power, Love, and Wisdom, one in essence, but trine in manifestation, to answer the needs of our triple nature and satisfy the senses, the heart, and the mind.

Within the deep and luminous subsistence
Of the High Light appeared to me three circles
Of threefold color and of one dimension,
And by the second seemed the first reflected
As iris is by iris, and the third
Seemed fire that equally by both is breathed.

Within itself, of its own very color,
Seemed to me painted with our effigy,
Wherefore my sight was all absorbed therein.

He had reached the high altar where the miracle of transubstantiation is wrought, itself also a type of the great conversion that may be accomplished in our own nature (the lower thing assuming the qualities of the higher), not by any process of reason, but by the very fire of the divine love.

Then there smote my mind
     A flash of lightning wherein came its wish.


1 Dante seems to allude directly to this article of the Catholic faith when he says, on entering the Celestial Paradise, ‘to signify transhumanizing by words could not be done,’ and questions whether he was there in the renewed spirit only or in the flesh also:—

If I was merely what of me thou newly
Createdst, Love who governest the heavens,
Thou knowest who didst lift me with thy light

Paradiso, I. 70-75.

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Pietro Di Dante (3)
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