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

section 106

On the Thursday of Corpus Christi an order came from the holy Father to the princes that eight of their noblemen should go in person to carry the canopy over the Blessed Sacrament while it was being borne solemnly in the hands of the Pope in procession from the great church of San Pietro in Vaticano to the church of Saint James in Borgo Vecchio, and from there back to the church of Saint Peter. They came into his Holiness' presence. They carried the canopy over the Blessed Sacrament and the Pope, and never before did Irishmen receive such an honour and privilege. The Italians were greatly surprised that they should be shown such deference and respect, for some of them said that seldom before was any one nation in the world appointed to carry the canopy. With the ambassadors of all the Catholic kings and princes of Christendom who happened to be then in the city it was an established custom that they, in succession, every year carried the canopy in


turn. They were jealous, envious, and surprised, that they were not allowed to carry it on this particular day.

Tadhg wrote this, and a blessing on his soul, 1609.

The procession was reverent, imposing, and beautiful, for the greater part of the regular Orders and all the clergy and communities of the great churches of Rome were in it, and many princes, dukes, and great lords. They had no less than a thousand lighted, waxen torches. Following them there were twenty-six archbishops and bishops. Next there were thirty-six cardinals. The Pope carried the Blessed Sacrament, and the Irish lords and noblemen to the number of eight bore the canopy. About the Pope was his guard of Swiss soldiers, and on either side of him and behind him were his two large troops of cavalry. The streets were filled with people behind. It was considered by all that they were not less in number than one hundred thousand. When they reached Saint Peter's, the Pope laid the Blessed Sacrament on the great high-altar. Then he went on his knees. He prostrated himself, prayed, and invoked. Afterwards he gave Benediction to all. He retired to his palace after that, and everyone who was there went to his palace or his home.