Title: Blessed by the Pope | Buffalo Bill, His Cowboys and Indians in the Halls of the Vatican

Periodical: Kansas City Star

Date: March 6, 1890

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Buffalo Bill, His Cowboys and Indians in the Halls of the Vatican.

ROME, March 3—One of the strangest spectacles ever seen within the venerable walls of the Vatican was the dramatic entry of Buffalo Bill at the head of his Indians and cowboys this morning, when the ecclesiastical, secular and military court of the Papacy assembled to witness the twelfth annual thanksgiving of Leo XIII, for his coronation [.] In the midst of a scene of supreme splendor, crowded with old Roman aristocracy and surrounded with walls immortalized by Michael Angelo and Rafaelo, there suddenly appeared a host of savages in paint, feathers and blankets, carrying tomahawks and knives.

A vast multitude surged into the great square before St. Peter's early in the morning to witness the arrival of the Americans [.] Before half past 9 o[']clock the Ducal hall, Royal hall and Sistine chapel were packed [.] Through the middle of the three audiences was a pathway bordered with the brilliant uniforms of Swiss guards, Palatine guards, Papal gendarmes and private chamberlains [.] The sunlight fell upon lines of glittering steel, nodding plumes, golden chains, shimmering robes of silk and all the brilliant emblems of pontifical power and glory.

Suddenly a tall, chivalrous figure appeared at the entrance, and all eyes were turned toward him. It was Buffalo Bill. With a sweep of his great sombrero he saluted the chamberlains and then strode between the guards with his partner, Nate Salsbury.

Next came Buck Taylor, who towered hugely above the tallest man in the palace, his long hair tied back on his shoulders [.] Then came Bronco Bill, in buckskin, and after him trooped the cowboys, splashed with mud and picturesque beyond description. Rock Bear led the Sioux warriors in the rear [.] They were painted in every color that Indian imagination could devise. Every man carried something to present the medicine man sent by the Great Spirit [.] Rocky Bear rolled his eyes and folded his hands on his breast as he stepped on tiptoe through the glowing sea of color, and his braves furtively eyed the halberds and two handled swords of the the Swiss guards [.]

The Indians and cowboys were ranged in the south corners of the Ducal hall. Buffalo Bill and Salisbury were escorted into the Sistine chapel by the chamberlains, and were greeted by General Sherman's daughter [.] A princess invited Colonel Cody to a place in the tribune of the Roman nobles. He stood facing the gorgeous diplomatic corps, surrounded by princes, nobles and ancient families of the city. When the pope appeared, carried above the heads of his guards, preceded by Knights of Malta in procession of cardinals and archbishops, the cowboys bowed, and so did the Indians [.] Rocky Bear knelt and made the sign of the cross [.] The pontiff leaned yearningly toward the rude groups and blessed them [.] He seemed to be touched by the sight. As the train swept on the Indians became excited and a squaw fainted [.] They had been warned not to utter a sound and were with difficulty restrained from whooping [.] The Pope looked at Colonel Cody intently as he passed and the great scout bent low as he received the benediction [.] After the thanksgiving mass, with its choral accompaniment, with now and then the pope's powerful voice heard ringing through the Sistine chapel, the great audience poured out of the Vatican [.]

When the Indians went back to camp, within sight of the grim castle of San Angelo, they found the only warrior who did not go to the Vatican dead in his blanket [.] Rocky Bear told his followers that the Great Spirit had done it [.] Tonight the Indians have temporarily relapsed into Paganism, and are howling over the dead brave, some of them tearing their flesh and sprinkling the funeral tent with the blood [.]