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

section 102

On Monday, the next day, the orphans of that church went in a splendid procession to the church of San Pietro. A company of the papal guard preceded them on the way, and on either side there was a revered, respected priest who was an earl and a director over the church, with all the younger clergy singing sweetly as they advanced behind them. Including boys and girls their number was four hundred and eighty-three. Of these, three hundred and forty-seven were girls. Of boys, the eldest of whom did not exceed fourteen years, there were one hundred and sixteen. They were styled 'the Pope's children', for scarcely anyone knew the fathers of many of them, but they were reared and supported for God's sake by the kindness of the holy Father. Through a special iron grating each child of them is introduced into the church before it has completed four days and nights of its life in the world. All of them who have not received baptism by that time are baptized then. After that each of them is brought up, reared, instructed, and educated in every appropriate way until they are finally well provided for. The veronica was exhibited to these children of the Pope on that day, that is to say, the holy, well-known, very miraculous napkin which the virgin of that name applied to the glowing red, crimson-cheeked face and the pure, glorious, wounded countenance of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, when He was in suffering, and distress, and weakness under the hands of merciless enemies, carrying the Cross of His Passion and


His martyrdom, with the crown of thorns about His head, after all the pain and suffering He had undergone before that. It has an image of the figure and face of Christ wondrously and miraculously outlined and painted with His own precious blood. After that, the head of the broad spear which Longinus put through the breast and heart of Christ when He was dead and lifeless on the wood of the Cross, was shown to them. The young girls were dressed in comely, good clothes, and some of them had a fine deportment and appearance. Sixteen of them were married that day, and the Pope paid their dowry. For solemnity and as an honour to these young married women, not less than two thousand persons had a banquet and feast in Santo Spirito, besides the usual community and congregation of the church itself.