Divine Comedy: Purgatorio

The Church Militant: Depictions in Dante College

In no other part of The Divine Comedy does Dante present his vision of the Church Militant, or the body of living believers who must struggle against sin and reach for virtue, than in Purgatorio. Striking parallels exist between the experiences of the shades in Purgatory and the experiences of humans on earth. On earth and in Purgatory, Christians walk out the journey of sanctification in an attempt to draw closer to God and gain entrance into Paradise. Though the moral state of the shades’ souls vary, much like in the Church on earth there are varying degrees of moral discipline, they are all unified by their salvation through Christ. Each shade in Purgatory walks the same path toward Paradise, and on the journey, the shades play a significant role in Dante’s own purgation. The shades pray for the Church Militant on earth, worship in unison, and even guide Dante and Virgil through Purgatory. In contrast with the images of the failed Church in Inferno and the admonitions of Church leadership by the saints in Paradiso, the depiction of Purgatory demonstrates the roles of the Church Militant in an individual’s sanctification. Dante the poet crafts Purgatorio to show the Church Militant on earth when its roles are completely...

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