Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Flight of the Earls (Author: Tadhg Ó Cianáin)

section 103

The holy, splendid, great church of Santo Spirito was built in the beginning by a certain nation of Germany which was called Saxony. For that reason the settlement was named Sassia. On its severance and separation from the Germans, Pope Innocent III gave it great honour and respect, gifts and great indulgences, and abundance of rents and lands. To this church the Pope who was named Sixtus IV granted a great increase in all its necessaries. He built and erected many splendid, costly, well-made buildings in it. It is estimated and calculated that, apart from the Pope's title, his empire and kingship, and all the gold and silver metal which is coined for him, this house alone could be compared with him in regard to yearly rents, for they were worth about twenty thousand crowns each month. When the Roman State saw that, they exacted a portion and a


fraction from it to the extent of two thousand crowns monthly. They united that with the income of the Pope. He has at least eighteen thousand crowns per month. That amounts to about fifty-four thousand pounds per year. Whoever would consider that this income and property is large and extraordinary for one church, let him remember that the poverty and misery it relieves is huge and indescribable. For not less than ten thousand persons, with all their support, expense, and necessaries, are maintained depending on that house every day of the year, outside the church and inside it. There is a splendid, very wealthy hospital, one of the finest in Christendom, in that church, which everyone of all nations in Christendom, in sickness, ill health, disease, and fever, may visit at any time and receive a gracious welcome, and have worthy, learned doctors and skilful physicians to serve and attend to them. The house gives at least one hundred crowns as a dowry to each of those girls we have spoken of who marries a husband. In the church there is the finest choir, and the most worthy and best fathers for divine service, in the greater part of all Christendom. Their support and maintenance in food and proper, splendid clothing, as well as the building and continual repairs of the church, is borne by the resources and income of the church itself. There is also the upkeep and state of the superior who manages the church and of his assistant. Everyone considers and believes he is one of the most splendid, kindly persons in all Christendom, and the least troubled or disturbed about upkeep and support. There is a very good abbey, with many nuns, maintained by the church, built and erected within the enclosure of its walls. If any of the young girls we have spoken of undertakes the spirit of chastity, she joins these. By them they are all instructed and brought up until the luck and fortune which God wills falls to each of them. In the church each day there are many masters teaching and instructing the male 'children of the Pope'. They teach them the


faith of the Church of God, singing, music, and every learning and proper instruction, until they acquire some intelligence and understanding, each of them getting the education he himself wishes for, according as God in His goodness reveals it to him. Everyone knows that this house in itself is a public benefit, because all its necessaries and support are supplied by itself. And not only that, but it has so much of all kinds of cattle and sheep, that it supplies meat for sale to the greater part of the Roman people, besides what it requires for itself. Also, it has so large a quantity of vines, and of great, wide fields of wheat and of every other crop, that they support large numbers of the Romans, as well as its own needs; and so great a number of beautiful, big, Italian horses, and of steeds, the largest and most beautiful in the world, that they serve as a great horse-supply for the Romans, as well as do the work, the carrying out of every undertaking, and the service of the house. On particular occasions there are frequently about one thousand persons in hot, fiery fever, and in every sickness, in the hospital of this church. Everyone says that this house is, without doubt, the most charitable, merciful, rich, and wealthy in Christendom, the most continuous and splendid in the divine service, and the house that is best in regard to doing every necessary work in the proper way. There is a figure and image of the Cross of Christ in the church, whence it acquired fame and notoriety, in a splendid, miraculous position, and it works many miracles and wonders every day; also the right hand of Saint Andrew, and many other meritorious relics of saints and holy people. The young clerics, and the community and congregation of the church, and all its live stock, bear that cross as their emblem.