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Reading Danté's Inferno 2015: Cantos XIX to XXI

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Canto XIX - Circle Eight, Bolgia Three - Simony

Simony is the practice of buying and selling God's favor. The sinners in this bolgia are planted head down in what look like baptismal fonts, their feet exposed and flaming. As an aside, Danté also tells the story of how he saved someone stuck in a baptismal font from drowning by breaking it with a sledge hammer. 

The punishment for those who commit simony is reminiscent of St. Peter's upside-down crucifixion and the way that assassins were treated by planting them upside in a hole, leaving them to suffocate. Their punishment is appropriate because simoners are assassinating the reputation of the church.


Danté speaks to one whose feet burns brighter than the rest and commands he confess. The shade replies, "Is that you already, Boniface?" referring to Pope Boniface VIII who has lined his own purse with money from "the beautiful Lady" (the church).

But this shade is Pope Nicholas III, who not only lined his pockets…