"And Beatrice, with joyous rapture said:
'Behold! see now the Baron for whose sake
Galacia's shrine on earth is visited." (Canto XXV. 16-18)
Satellite photo courtesy of NASA, Visible Earth.
Beatrice's "Baron" refers to St. James, the apostle, who is buried in Santiago de Compostela meaning (St. James in the Field of Stars), Spain. During the Middle Ages this became a vibrant place of pilgrimage due to the difficulties of traveling to the Holy Land and remains a place of pilgrimages to this day.
Now another brilliant soul joins St. Peter to speak with Dante. St. James says to Dante:
"Say what hope is,
how it adorn thy mind,
And thirdly say whence unto thee hope came" (Canto XXV. 46-47)
"'Hope', I began, 'is certainty of bliss
To come, which God by grace to us concedes
And from our previous merit promises.'"
(Canto XXV. 67-69)
Dante indicates that this hope also comes from "many stars" or wise men who wrote the Biblical texts and especially the Psalms. Indeed, if we read the Psalms we see that hope is implied in many of its songs. Here follows a few example:
"My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope." (Ps 62:6)
"Listen, God to my prayer; do not hide from my pleading." (Ps 55:2)
"Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; ...." (Ps 51:1)
"Lord my God, in you I take refuge; rescue me; save me from those who pursue me." (Ps 7:1)
"Do not cast me aside in my old age; as my strength fails do not forsake me." (Ps 71:9)
"Those who honor your name trust in you; you never forsake those who seek you, LORD." (Ps 9:10)
Hope is an orientation of the soul toward a brighter future in God's providence. Hope that prayers will be heard, hope to be saved from enemies, hope to be forgiven and hope to receive from God strength in old age. "Israel's hopes for blessing, mercy, help, just judgment, forgiveness and salvation." (Sacramentum Mundi Encyclopedia)
"This revelation by thy brother's hand,
Where he makes manifest the robes of white,
Set forth still more explicitly doth stand."
(Canto XXV. 94-96)
Here Dante alludes to the Revelation of St. John who sets out more explicitly the realization of hope.
"After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice 'Salvation comes from our God,
who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb.'" (Rv 7:9)
The Lamb of God here is Christ without whom there would be no hope of future glory. By his sacrifice he opened the way into God's life for mankind and innumerable people are now striving an hoping to join the great multitude which is already in God's Kingdom of glory.
St. James further tells Dante:
"The love with which e'en yet I flame
For hope, which ne'er forsook me till I earned
Release from battle and a martyr's palm."
(Canto XXV. 82-84)
St. James was martyred in Jerusalem. "He [Herod] had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword...." (Ac 12:2) There is a solid tradition which says that St. James preached Christianity in Western Spain but was martyred in 44 AD upon his return to Jerusalem. His remains, however, were brought back to Spain. The palm is a Christian symbol signifying the victory and St. James now lives in that life of glory which he hoped for while on earth.
Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Dante sees the soul of St. John joining the others. It is so bright so that if one star of the Crab was as bright it would light up a winter month like an unbroken day. Dante stares intently on St. John seeking to see if he had a body as told by a legend but St. John tells him that his body will lie on earth till the end of time. Dante is dismayed when he discovers that he is blind--
"Ah, how the soul within me was aghast,
When I next turned to look at Beatrice,
To find myself from sight of her outcast."
(Canto XXV. 136-138)