1555 Lyon Bonhomme

Romain Pontife garde de t’approcher
De la cité qui deux fleuues arrouse,
Ton sang viendras au pres de la cracher,
Toy & les tiens quand fleurira la rose.

1557 Utrecht Du Rosne has Line 4 ending with ‘route’ which is in error.  The 1568 Lyon Benoist Rigaud edition has Line 2 ‘qui’ as ‘que’.

Line 2, OF ‘arrouser/arroser’ is to do with running water or swimming rivers/crossing. Or drizzlimg or overflowing or, by analogy, garnishing plentifully.

Line  3, OF ‘cracher’ literally meant reject by mouth, spit. An ancient Chinese theatrical device has a person spit blood as proof that death approaches.


Roman Pontiff beware of your approach
To the city which two rivers swim across,
Your blood will come close to spitting,
You and all yours when the rose will decorate/will bloom.

Unspecified papal disaster close to the skin and extending to others of like kind. It happens as the roses bloom. I guess that means Spring. Some roses have very extended growing seasons and some climates induce early flowering. (There’s on-and-off all the year round blooming in the subequatorial zone.) Let’s play safe and call it the Ides of May. This should take place at Vatican City/Rome but it could be many other cities upon rivers. The spelling ‘Pontife’ is a little close to Pontifex, magistrate. At the time of Rome Republic’s take-over by Julius Caesar there were 16 in Rome. Otherwise, this is a Pope.

Flora was the sexy Roman goddess of Springtime and flowers with her own temple on the Aventine, over from the Circus Maxima. Site of the Floralia or Ludi Florales, occuring annually 28th April to 3rd May by Caesar’s Calendar, from the Third Century BC on. The licentious Ludi games were funded by minor magistrates or aediles (6 under Caesar). People decorated their hair with floral ornamentations. The festival closed-out at the Circus Maxima where animals were set free and seed scattered. Forerunner to Mayday. In modern times a public rose garden has emerged near the spot.

N.B. The Vatican’s Equestrian Orders, such as the Supreme Order of Christ, are placed above the Chivalric Orders, such as the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The Golden Rose is both an Equestrian distinction and a very ancient institution. As such it is a decorative ornament of value sent out from the Vatican and is blessed annually by the Pope. Most recent beneficiaries have all been shrines, sanctuaries or basilicas but it has also gone to many high-ranking individuals and favoured states. The blessing takes place on the 4th Sunday of Lent, Rose Sunday, whereat the Papa wears a stole of rosy hue. This Rose symbolically represents the rod (or shoot or branch) out of the root of Jesse also the fragrant nature of the Christ.

Nigel Raymond Offord © 2012 onwards