Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Looking for Beatrice at the Santa Margherita de' Cerchi

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"Nine times already since my birth had the heaven of light returned to the selfsame point almost, as concerns its own revolution, when first the glorious Lady of my mind was made manifest to mine eyes; even she who was called Beatrice by many who knew not wherefore.She had already been in this life for so long as that, within her time, the starry heaven had moved towards the Eastern quarter one of the twelve parts of a degree; so that she appeared to me at the beginning of her ninth year almost, and I saw her almost at the end of my ninth year. Her dress, on that day, was of a most noble colour, a subdued and goodly crimson, girdled and adorned in such sort as best suited with her very tender age. At that moment, I say most truly that the spirit of life, which hath its dwelling in the secretest chamber of the heart, began to tremble so violently that the least pulses of my body shook therewith; and in trembling it said these words: Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur mihi." - Dante, La Vita Nuova (trans. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1899)
The Church of Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, is where Dante, as a child of nine, first saw his beloved Beatrice Portinari. Interestingly, it was also where Dante is reputed to have married Gemma Donati. The church also has the tomb of Folco Portinari, Beatrice's father (but not Beatrice). The church is interesting, tucked away in a little side street, it was quite small and dark.


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