On Ascension Thursdaythe fifteenth of May in 1608in particular each year the Pope gives a general benediction in public to all Catholics who chance to come before him. On that day, then, the princes had selected for a visit the palace of Cardinal Ascoli, which is in front of the great palace of the Pope. Many thousands of people are accustomed to come to seek that benediction. After a time they saw the holy Father approaching on a beautiful, high balcony which is at the side of the palace, and which was covered with cloths of satin and silk of all varieties of colours. He was carried reverently and respectfully in a splendid, bright chair, covered with gold and red velvet, and on his head his crown of red gold, encircled with diamonds and precious stones. The precious stone which fastened his splendid garment cost [...]. The cardinals and the bishops were around him, and the canons and young clerics of Saint Peter's. His guard of Swiss soldiers was on either side of him. In front of him were two very large
p.175troops of cavalry, the strongest and best in the world in regard to weapons, horses, clothing, and their own persons. Then the holy Father stood up. He gave a holy, gracious and precious benediction to all the Catholics in his presence. After that he returned to the palace in the same manner. Then there was a blare of trumpets and a beating of drums. The great ordnance of the palace and of the castle of Sant' Angelo were fired one after the other. One who had never seen the like would be surprised at the sight of the confusion and noise of the coaches, the horses, and the ordnance. Cardinal Ascoli showed great welcome and kindness to the princes. When they had received the blessing of the holy Father, he gave them a splendid costly banquet. They then returned to their own palace.