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

section 118

On the twenty-ninth of September following, the feast of Saint Michael, Ó Néill went to the church of Saint Michael in the Borgo. By Pope Gregory it was first erected. For a long time there had been a very great plague in Rome. The majority of the inhabitants and those who dwelt in the city died at that time. Gregory and all the Romans who still lived went in splendid procession of penance from the monastery of Ara Coeli to the church of Saint Peter, with an image of the Holy Virgin Mary which is in the monastery borne in front of them. As they passed over the bridge of Sant' Angelo, which crosses the river Tiber, they saw with their bodily eyes the angel of God above them in the air, and in his hand a bare sword covered and besmeared with red gore. He afterwards alighted on the high rock on which the castle of Sant Angelo was built. When he beheld his Holiness the Pope, he sheathed his sword. The Pope and the Romans understood from that


that the Lord's anger towards them had come to an end. The track of the angel's feet is still in the marble flag on which he alighted. This church was erected by the Pope in honour and reverence of Michael the Archangel. He himself, and the other Popes one after another, left to it numerous indulgences and remissions of sin. Now, the friars of Ara Coeli were not content until they got as a gift for themselves, from his Holiness the Pope, this marble stone, for it was their miraculous image of Mary which was at the head of the procession, in front of the Pope. The Romans are accustomed, on the feast of Saint Michael in particular, to ascend on their knees the high marble stairs which lead to that church.