Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/381

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

THE DOVE OF HOLY SATURDAY.

375

she remained still fizzing for a few seconds.

Then all the bells of Florence, which had been silent since twelve o'clock on Thursday, began to ring merry chimes, and the great organ pealed out a triumphal melody. We made our way out of the Duomo as fast as we could, and were in time to see the last of the fireworks on the chariot; they made a tremendous noise, but as the sun shone brightly, there was not much to see. The fireworks were piled up some twenty feet high, and arranged in such a manner that only half of them go off in front of the Duomo, the other half being reserved for the corner of Borgo degli Albizzi, where the house of the Pazzi family is situated, in whose honor this custom was originally instituted. When all the squibs and crackers were finished, four magnificent white oxen, gaily decked with ribbons, were harnessed to the car, which moved off slowly with many creaks and groans round the south side of the cathedral towards the Via del Proconsolo. The crowd was immense, so we took some short cuts down the tortuous narrow streets in this old part of Florence, each of which has some passionate love-story or some dark tale of blood attached to it, and took up a favorable position opposite the entrance to the street of Borgo degli Albizzi, which is too narrow to admit the car.

The four white oxen were unharnessed and taken away, and a cord being put from the door of the Pazzi Palace to the car, another dove again flew to the fireworks, and the popping and fizzing was renewed, to the intense delight of the crowd.

The dove had flown swiftly and well this year, so the contadini returned home joyfully, spreading the glad tidings as they went — "La colomba è anaato bene." (The dove has flown well.)

This ceremony is connected with the old and noble family of Pazzi, whose ancestor, Pazzino de' Pazzi, so says the tradition, was the first to scale the walls of Jerusalem and plant the Christian flag. Godfrey de Bouillon, to recompense such prowess, crowned him with a mural crown, gave him his own armorial bearings, five crosses and two dolphins, and bestowed on him three stones, supposed to have come from the Holy Sepulchre. Gamurrini mentions that Pazzo de' Pazzi made a triumphant entry into Florence like a conqueror, in a magnificent chariot, and with a gallant company of youths around to do him honor.

The three stones were deposited in the Church of St. Biagio, whence they were removed to Santi Apostoli. On the morning of Holy Saturday the archbishop, attended by all his clergy, goes to the Church of Santi Apostoli and strikes fire from these stones. He then lights a taper, which is carried in procession to the Baptistery, and then to the Duomo, where the fire is blessed, and the devout light candles at it.

Old records contain no mention of a triumphal entry of any Pazzi, or of a mural crown, and R. Malespina and Monsignor Borghini both agree that the Count of Bari gave the above-mentioned armorial bearings to the Pazzi in 1265. Travellers, too, say that the three stones are of quite a different nature from that of the Holy Sepulchre. They were probably collected on the Mount of Olives by some devout pilgrim of the Pazzi family, who brought them home as relics, and in process of time they have gained the reputation of being portions of the Holy Sepulchre.

The triumphal entry of Pazzino de' Pazzi into Florence, and his supposed progress from the seacoast to his native city were favorite subjects with the old painters, chiefly for cassone or wedding chests. I have seen several, good, bad, and indifferent. One of the finest is by Benozzo Gozzoli; Pazzino de' Pazzi is seated in a magnificent gold chariot, with a golden canopy over his head, drawn by two horses, whose trappings sweep the ground. He is dressed in armor, and a tabard of cloth of gold trimmed with fur; on his head is a kind of turban, surmounted by a crown. Round his chariot are crowds of splendidly-dressed youths on horseback, and behind come a troop of men in armor, and another magnificent car with ladies in it; their dresses are of gold brocade and embroidered stuffs, and long veils hang down from their curious head-dresses. One has a turban made of peacock feathers.

In front of the chariot of Pazzino de' Pazzi is another car bearing a gilt globe, and on the globe stands a winged golden figure fiddling; round this chariot are trumpeters, from whose long golden trumpet hangs square dark-blue flags, on which are emblazoned flames. The procession is opened by a square chariot bearing an enormous two-handled jar, with two large wings; out of the mouth of the jar issue flames — the sacred fire which Pazzi brought from Jerusalem. This is surrounded by pages on splendidly caparisoned horses, and groups of men in East-