Dante - Purgatorio - Canto 09
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
I saw a gate, which had three steps below it
By way of approach, they were of different colours
And a porter who still did not say a word
As my eyes were opened more widely
I saw him sitting on the top step
His face such that I could not look at him;
And in his hand he held a naked sword
Which so reflected the rays towards us
That I tried often to look at it, but in vain
'Stand there and answer; what it is you want?'
He started by saying; 'Where is your escort?
Look out, you may be worse for coming here'
'A lady from heaven, who understands these things'
My master answered him, 'has just now told us;
“You go that way: that is the gate there” '.
'And may she assist your steps to blessedness'
The courteous gatekeeper began again;
'Come forward therefore to these steps of ours'.
We came forward; and the first great tread
Was white marble, so polished and smooth,
That I saw myself in it as I appear.
And the second was coloured darker than purple
Made of stone which was rough and charred
And had cracks running through the length and breadth of it
The third, which formed a heavy mass on top
Appeared to me to be of porphyry as flaming
As blood which spurts out of a vein
On this God's angel kept both his feet
Sitting high up upon the threshold
Which seemed to me to be of diamond stone
My master took me up the three steps
In happy mood, and said to me; 'Ask
Humbly that the gate be opened up'................
Ashes or earth which has been dug up dry
Would be the same colour as his garment was
And from beneath it he drew out two keys
One was of gold and the other was of silver
First with the white one, after with the yellow
He undid the gate, and I was content.