Paradiso Canto 11




A Franciscan friar and Roman Catholic priest, Francisco Nahoe OFMConv focuses his scholarly efforts primarily on Renaissance rhetoric and Medieval philosophy. His present research and writing projects include work on Anglo-Saxon eschatology, European petrarchismo, and global rhetorics of science. He teaches at Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California.

Questions for Reflection

  • Dante opens this canto by criticizing the human tendency to arrange ourselves in schools of disputation, devoting ourselves to polarizing arguments that divide and alienate us from each other. Why denounce this tendency in a canto dedicated to wisdom and theology?
  • Why does Thomas Aquinas remind Dante that no human eye can plumb the abyss of divine providence (11.27-30)? Why is awareness of the limits of our knowledge so important for becoming wise?
  • What was the divine vocation of Dominic and Francis, founders of two mendicant orders (religious orders that take vows of poverty in order to live among the poor and outcast), the Dominicans and the Franciscans (11.34-36)? Why would Dante discuss the mendicants in the heaven of the sun?
  • Why do you think Dante has Aquinas, a Dominican, tell the life-story of Francis?
  • (e) Who did Francis love and marry (11.57-75)? How is Francis a model of a martyr (11.100-108)? How does the example of Francis point us toward wisdom?


  • Fr. Fr. Francisco Nahoe
  • Zaytuna College
  • Run Time 15:49