'Divine Comedy' and the Index


I read that Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ was put on the Index… I’m wondering though, has it ever been placed off the Index? because I see Catholic publishers publishing it, and including quotes from it in books, - and these are very orthodox Catholic publishers. Are we also allowed to have a copy? I understand the Index isn’t used anymore but the Church also said that the moral aspect of it is always present. I know there are books that were on the Index and were later taken off, or particular translations/editions were put on the Index while others were given approval… but what is the case with the Divine Comedy?

Anyone know? :slight_smile:


If ‘Divine Comedy’ actually wasn’t placed on the Index and it was another of Dante’s books that was, please let me know too :slight_smile: I read in other places that only another one of his books was banned - Monarchia or something similar… thanks :slight_smile:

IIRC, the issue with the Divine Comedy and the former Index had to do with the fact that in the work Dante consigned a number of “wicked popes” to hell, not for any moral issues with the content. The Divine Comedy is considered the crown jewel of Italian literature. There is no problem owning a copy. Strangely, the Divine Comedy is under attack again, in these politically correct times, for what is alleged to be racism and anti-Semitism. Obviously Dante was a creature of his time.

Tarpein Rock seems right here. The “Divine Comedy” relied heavily on Aquinas and Augustine for its theology (though it used mythological and literary figures from ancient Rome in the story). However, many popes that Dante was slighted by were found in the Inferno - quite often suffering for the sin of simony. Dante sent a lot of his political opponents to Hell, though he also sent a few of his friends there, too (one of Dante’s friends was a practicing homosexual, so he was sent to the burning fields of the 7th circle for violence against nature). If anything, the only real problem with the “Divine Comedy” is Dante nearly deifying his childhood friend Beatrice, who died in childbirth several years before Dante started on Inferno.

I doubt if it was put on the index. I remember it being part of an English course in the Catholic High School I attended.

We accidently found his tomb in Ravenna. It is attached to St. Francis church. They showed us the place where he was temporarily moved during the war. The Church was interesting. It had a pool under the altar where gold fish swam.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has an article about him.

Since the Forbidden Index was suppressed in 1953, as far as I know there is no problem reading these works.

But then I am not a priest just a sinner!


I doubt it was on the Index–if it was, it was off by the 20th century. Pope Benedict XV wrote an encyclical praising Dante and the Divine Comedy in 1921 and encouraging the faithful to read it. Here’ an excerpt:

[quote=Pope Benedict XV, In Praeclara Summorum]Indeed, his Commedia, which deservedly earned the title of Divina, while it uses various symbolic images and records the lives of mortals on earth, has for its true aim the glorification of the justice and providence of God who rules the world through time and all eternity and punishes and rewards the actions of individuals and human society. It is thus that, according to the Divine Revelation, in this poem shines out the majesty of God One and Three, the Redemption of the human race operated by the Word of God made Man, the supreme loving-kindness and charity of Mary, Virgin and Mother, Queen of Heaven, and lastly the glory on high of Angels, Saints and men; then the terrible contrast to this, the pains of the impious in Hell; then the middle world, so to speak, between Heaven and Hell, Purgatory, the Ladder of souls destined after expiation to supreme beatitude. It is indeed marvellous how he was able to weave into all three poems these three dogmas with truly wrought design.


A general note on the Index, just because it no longer has juridical force, does not mean there is “no problem” with reading the books that were on it. We are to avoid anything that is harmful to our faith (cf. CCC 2088) and the books on the Index were judged by the Church to have significant enough potential to harm the faith of believers to be censored. As such, they should still be treated as works potentially harmful to the faith and, if there is a good reason to read them, they should be read with the necessary caution that entails.

That is not correct. Leaving aside the topic of this thread, even though the Index was abolished we are still to avoid reading books that were on it. Pope Benedict XVI, while still Cardinal Ratzinger made a statement on this when a similar question was raised about The Poem of the Man God.

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