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The Defective Spirits of Paradise: Piccarda Donati

In Paradise, in the first Sphere of the Moon, Dante addresses souls with an evanescent appearance like reflections of water. Among them is Piccarda Donati, a nun who was kidnapped from her monastery by her brother Corso, who, for political reasons, forced her to marry Rossellino della Tosa, one of the most powerful leaders among the Guelphs. Piccarda is therefore one of the defective spirits, that is, those who, under the influence of the changing Moon, did not keep their promises. In fact, she broke her vow of chastity, even though unwillingly. The Poet asks her if enjoying the lowest degree of bliss is painful for her. Yet she replies that in Heaven spirits are always happy because their will is totally consistent with God's one.

"Our charity doth never shut the doors
Against a just desire, except as one
Who wills that all her court be like herself.
I was a virgin sister in the world;
And if thy mind doth contemplate me well,
The being more fair will not conceal me from thee,
But thou shalt recognise I am Piccarda,
Who, stationed here among these other blessed,
Myself am blessed in the slowest sphere.
All our affections, that alone inflamed
Are in the pleasure of the Holy Ghost,
Rejoice at being of his order formed;
And this allotment, which appears so low,
Therefore is given us, because our vows
Have been neglected and in some part void."

Paradise, III, 43-57.

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