Chapter

Rome's Happiest Inspiration?

John Casey

in After Lives

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780195092950
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199869732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195092950.003.0010
Rome's Happiest Inspiration?

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The Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory has possibly attracted more opprobrium from Protestants than any other teaching of the Church. It went with the granting of indulgences—one of the precipitating occasions of the Reformation. Purgatory had very little scriptural warrant, greatly increased the spiritual power of the Church, and was thought to give rise to many abuses. Yet (the chapter argues) it was one of the happiest inspirations of Rome, for it led to a deepening understanding of the psychology of repentance, and a more humane vision of the possibilities of salvation. This theme is explored particularly in relation to Dante's Purgatorio along with a brief discussion of T. S. Eliot's poem “Animula.”

Keywords: Purgatory; indulgences; Reformation; scripture; abuses; Dante; Purgatorio; psychology of repentance; humane vision; T. S. Eliot

Chapter.  7835 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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