Christmas in Rome, AD 800

As the crown settled on his head, as the Pope stepped back and raised his hand in blessing, Charles closed his eyes and folded his hands. He stayed thus for perhaps a minute; then he rose.

Instantly a mighty shout burst forth: “Long life and victory to Charles, the most pious Augustus, by God Crowned the great and pacific Emperor of the Romans!”

Over and over again the shouts rang to the roof, echoing and beating against the walls, against the columns and the arches, making the candles flicker and flare with the breath of so many voices. The cry was handed back by those pressed in the doorway, carried back and out into the space beyond, so that it seemed all Rome at that moment rang with acclamation.

Was this not all that he could have wished for from the people?

He turned and faced them all. At once they were still. They gazed toward him eagerly.

When the silence was absolute, he spoke.

“I, Charles, Emperor—engage and promise in the name of Christ, in the presence of God and St. Peter the Apostle, to protect and defend the Holy Roman Church in all things profitable to the same, and, God being my helper, to the best of my knowledge and ability.”

~Son of Charlemagne by Barbara Willard.

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