Inspired by Dante, Alumnus Raises Funds for Italian Hospital
Date published: April 6, 2020
Danny Fitzpatrick, BA ’13, was a spring 2011 Romer; he and his classmates were there
for the beatification of Pope St. John Paul II.
“This was an occasion which, in conjunction with extraordinarily good weather and,
I think, a kind of general eudaimonia, led Dr. Waterman-Ward to call us the ‘Blessed Class,’” he said.
However, it is not just these “big” memories that provide a sense of comfort and clarity
on which to draw, both now and in the future; as often happens in life, it is largely
the memories of moments, those in which we felt engulfed by joy and beauty, that give
us solace and see us through.
“I remember most standing on a ledge in Delphi watching dawn spread its pink fingers
through the clouds over the Gulf of Corinth,” said Fitzpatrick. “I remember the dogwoods
blooming at Hosios Loukas Monastery. I remember watching the flight of swallows from
the roof of the Vatican Observatory. Still whenever I smell wisteria or see a poppy
I am at once back on the Rome campus. A thousand such memories spring immediately
to mind — many occur to me on a daily basis, and they remain a deep well of consolation.”
In the current COVID-19 crisis, Fitzpatrick’s love for Italy, appreciation for his time there, and a creative collaboration
with sculptor Tim Schmalz have led to a specific way of rendering aid to the country
beloved by so many UD alumni and one-time Romers.
“Tim is currently creating one sculpture for each canto of The Divine Comedy, while I’m working on a new translation. The plan is to release a new edition of
the Comedy March 25, 2021, in conjunction with Italy’s Dante 700 celebrations,” explained Fitzpatrick.
“Given Italy’s current plight, we will begin releasing two canti per week, with Tim’s
images, my translation, and dramatic readings in Italian and English. Any donations will be dedicated to a hospital in Italy.”
Fitzpatrick and Schmalz met through the St. Louis-area Catholic radio station WCAT, affiliated with En Route Books and Media, which just published Fitzpatrick’s novel Only the Lover Sings. WCAT had interviewed Fitzpatrick about the novel and Schmalz about his work with
“So it was basically through that network that Tim found out about my efforts at a
new translation of the Comedy, and I learned about his progress on sculptural illustrations of each canto,” explained
To the “Royal Class,” the 2020 spring Romers whose semester was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fitzpatrick
says, “Nothing quite seems adequate, either as encouragement or consolation, except
to consider that saints are most often made saints by being driven from the expected
Fitzpatrick feels that divine providence played a role in his own path. While in a
general sense his philosophy major established the habits of mind that have helped
him maintain an active creative life while raising his children with his wife, Grace
(Gallaher), BA ’13, and working full time as a manager at a Ford dealership, the discipline
of philosophy has also played a more specific role in nurturing his creative endeavors.
In 2016, when he and Grace moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, from New Orleans, he enrolled
in an online philosophy Master of Arts program through Holy Apostles College and Seminary.
Sebastian Mahfood, Ph.D., a professor and administrator there, operates En Route Books
and Media. Moreover, Ronda Chervin, Ph.D., En Route’s acquisitions director, moved
to Hot Springs in 2018.
“I met her, she read my novel, and now that that’s in print we’ve moved on to this
new project. So I think it’s safe to say that without philosophy, the course of my
writing career, were it still existent, would look drastically different,” said Fitzpatrick.
Writing and other creative and artistic endeavors are especially necessary as we navigate
times of tribulation like the COVID-19 crisis.
“I’ve been deeply moved over the last weeks by the tremendous creative outpouring
we’ve witnessed on social media,” said Fitzpatrick. “Yo-Yo Ma is playing for us all. Virtual museum tours are going viral. People are reaching
out through art not only as a psychological outlet but also as a way to share of themselves
at a very personal level.”
“I’ve been thinking about King Lear lately,” he added. “Word’s going around online, of course, that Shakespeare wrote
it during a plague (and, come on, he was Shakespeare; high-powered art was just his
thing, whatever the outward circumstances). More importantly, though, I’ve thought
again and again of Dr. Waterman-Ward’s reading of the play during my Rome semester.
It’s an immensely dark work, and yet the universality of its darkness speaks to, and
comforts, each of us in our personal darkness.”
Art, music and literature will help us to find our way through the current personal
and collective darkness, but so, of course, will faith.
“God gives us talents and desires to guide us home to Him,” said Fitzpatrick. “The
joy we feel in doing what we love, often construed as mere distraction from the more
serious work of daily life, is surely a gift from the Father designed to make us flourish.
That said, our feelings, instincts, passions, desires and so on need prudential direction.
St. Thomas More was so joyful, so productive, so saintly, in large part because of
his intense commitment from a very young age to forming a prudential conscience. I
don’t think there’s any better preparation for the rest of life.”
Finally, speaking to his fellow current and future UD alumni: “There’s a line from
Book IV of the Aeneid that always comes back to me in difficult times: ‘Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.’ ‘Perhaps one day it will be pleasing to remember even these things.’ But as Catholics
I think we can even do without the perhaps.”