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

section 81

Including the churches and monasteries of communities of religious and priests, there are two hundred and forty-three churches in the city, not counting many chapels that were erected by noblemen for the practice of their devotion. There is a good altar erected in every market-place in the city, where Masses are celebrated each day. There are three parish churches in the castle. On ninety days in the year there is a station and indulgence in the churches of the city. It is the custom that men and women be not together at any station, but they divide the time about the middle of the day. There are seven chief churches in the city which are privileged with all the indulgences of the seven great churches of Rome. It was Pope Gregory XIII who granted these privileges to Cardinal Charles Borromeo, who was archbishop of Milan at the time. The names of the churches are, the great cathedral of Santa Maria del Duomo, San Simpliciano, San Vittore al Corpo, Sant' Ambrogio Maggiore, San Nazaro Maggiore, San Lorenzo Maggiore, and San Stefano Parimente Maggiore. There are many relics of saints and holy people in these churches. Every patron day the tradesmen of the city come in splendid procession to them with banners and standards, and distribute alms and charity at the cathedral. There are six special days each year for the


giving of alms, a day for each gate of the six gates of the city, for the building of the great church. Those who live in the city itself are obliged to give their alms and offerings at the gate nearest to them. Except for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the ceremonies and liturgy of this city are different from those of the Roman Court, for it continued the practice and ceremonies of the great Saint Ambrose. That saint was declared bishop of Milan in the year of Our Lord three hundred and seventy-four. Under God he alone brought all Italy to Christianity and piety. Six good churches and a hospital were built by him in the city. His body and tomb is in one of these churches, where there is a congregation and community of monks. On the anniversary of the day on which he took possession of the bishopric his body is exhibited each year. Works of devotion and great piety, as well as the distribution of much alms, are performed that day in the city and throughout the diocese. On the day of the Epiphany the superiors of the church of Sant' Eustorgio, where the sarcophagus of the three kings who came to visit Christ in His Infancy, and a piece of the gold they gave Him are exhibited, bestow for God's sake a dowry on nine maidens. Much charity and good holy deeds are performed in that city, but it would be tedious to enumerate them all.