Learn English – What does “sign the final flourish” mean


There was the following sentence in Time magazine’s a bit old article (December 11, 2013) titled, “Pope Francis, the people’s Pope,” in which I was drawn to the phrase, “sign the final flourish”:

“He returned o Buenos Aires and looked to retirement. – – He handed
his letter of resignation to the Pope when he turned 75 in 2011.”I’m
starting to consider the fact that I have to leave everything behind,”
he said in 2010. “It makes me want to be fair with everyone always, to
sign the final flourish … But death is my thought every day.” He
insisted he was not sad, and he went on posing for pictures with the


I thought “sign the flourish” an idiom, but I don’t find the phrase in dictionaries I use to consult, or on Google.”

I wondered if it’s similar with Japanese idiom, “一花咲かせる-hitohana sakaseru” meaning to bloom the last blossoms at the ending, at the last stage of one's career, or before retiring, like a baseball player who passed his peak hitting a streak of homeruns before retiring, but then, the word, “sign” seems to be incongruent.

Or, does “sign the flourish” mean “sign by using decorated-letters”?

What does the phrase, Pope wanted to “sign the final flourish” mean?

Best Answer

When you sign something with a flourish you make a kind of bold dramatic motion of the pen.

I think it's a metaphor to living the end of his life, and how he would like to deal with it, in style and displaying good character.