Vidi nuper – nomina taceo, ne saturam putes – nobilissimam mulierum Romanarum in basilica beati Petri semiviris antecedentibus propria manu, quo religiosior putaretur, singulos nummos dispertire pauperibus. interea – ut usu nosse perfacile est – anus quaedam annis pannisque obsita praecurrit, ut alterum nummum acciperet; ad quam cum ordine pervenisset, pugnus porrigitur pro denario et tanti criminis reus sanguis effunditur.
(Jerome, Ep. 22.32)
Just lately I saw the greatest lady in Rome – I will not give her name, for this is not a satire – standing in the church of the blessed Peter with her band of eunuchs in front. She was giving money to the poor with her own hand to increase her reputation for sanctity; and she gave them each a penny! At that moment – as you might easily know by experience – an old woman, full of years and rags, ran in front of the line to get a second coin; but when her turn came she got, not a penny, but the lady’s fist in her face, and for her dreadful offence she had to pay with her blood. (tr. Frederick Adam Wright)