E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Pope (1 syl.),
in Latin popa (plur. popæ). A priest who knocked on the head the ox offered in sacrifice, and cut
it up, a very small part being burnt, and all the rest distributed to those concerned in the sacrifice. Wine was poured between the horns, but the priest first sipped it, and all those who assisted him. After the beast had been stunned it was stabbed, and the blood was caught in a vessel used for the purpose, for the shedding of blood was indispensable in every sacrifice. It was the duty of the pope to see that the victim to be sacrificed was without spot or blemish, and to ascertain that it had never been yoked to the plough. The head was crowned with a fillet, and the horns gilt. Apparently the Roman soldiers of Pontius Pilate made a mockery imitation of these Roman and Greek sacrifices.