MONDAY, 29TH MAY
The Priory and Rose Garden at St-Cosme (Prieure de St.-Cosne) – Today we went by public bus 3 kms east from the centre of Tours to the Priory. Now a rather romantic ruin, the Priory was founded in 1092, becoming a stopping off place on the pilgrimage route to Compostella in Spain. When the royal family came to live in Touraine, the Priory flourished by visits from Catherine de Medici and Charles IX. Equally important was the Prior who received them, France’s most famous Poet, Pierre RONSARD. One of the main attractions at the Priory is the rose garden but especially the Pierre de RONSARD rose among its many varieties. Only a few vestiges are left of the 11th century church.
RONSARD (1524-1585), “the youngest of a noble family of Vendome (Loir-et-Cher), he entered the court of King Francis I as a page at the age of 12. A privileged witness to the Renaissance, he was attuned to the spirit of his time; a traveller, a tireless worker and a worthy servant of the kings. Forced by illness to give up his military career, he became a cleric in 1543. He then devoted himself to writing. Inspired by his muses, he created an extensive work filled with poems, odes and speeches. In 1565, Queen Catherine de Medici and her son, the young King Charles IX, appointed him head of the Priory of Saint Cosme which quickly became one of the poet’s favourite places of inspiration and it was his last home, where he is still resting.”
Nature is a central theme of Ronsard’s work whether it is the main subject or simply a reference in a poem, RONSARD celebrated nature both wild or manicured. He is quite well-known for referring to roses in his poems and, that being said, a total of over 300 plants are referred to in his works. He often gardened in the Priory garden.