The Vatican Pharmacy launched its first range of perfumes produced by the apothecaries of the order of Saint John of God (Fatebenefratelli), who provide the service. The new essences, inspired by the Bible, are called: gold, incense, myrrh and mystical rose, reported L’Osservatore Romano on August 22, 2018.
The four bottles are sold in a case that bears the inscription 2018 in Roman numerals (MMXVIII): as the Director Thomas Binish Mulackal explains, 2018 is a particularly important year for the Vatican Pharmacy, which has launched a great restructuring project in order to receive better the thousands of daily clients (between 2,000 and 2,500 a day).
The new perfumes aim to rediscover the role of fragrances in Christian life. The researchers discovered ancient perfumes mentioned in the Holy Scriptures (the Magi offered incense and myrrh to Jesus) and they go back to their plants of origin, in the Mediterranean tradition and that of the Holy Land: aloes, nard, galbanum, myrtle, saffron, roses, hyssop, sandalwood, aromatic reeds, cinnamon, geranium, bergamot.
It’s about “entrusting to perfume a message that refers to the meeting between the sacred and nature, between divinity and humanity, in order to transmit sensations that also invite to reflection”: “incense, with its typical smell, refers to the presence of God, to purification <and> to the sense of sacrifice.” Myrrh was used “as aroma and to preserve the mortal remains of the dead.” Both were also used as healing remedies. Gold is also “an effective method to combat certain pathologies, to the point that one speaks of gold therapy.”
There is “a long tradition that links the mystics to perfumes,” underscores L’Osservatore Romano: “Beginning with the Virgin Mary, also called by the title “Mystical Rose,” to which the perfume of the same name makes reference. Suffice it to recall the ecstasies of dozens of women and men Saints, of whom the closest to us is Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. The intense perfume that one perceived on certain occasions, according to the witnesses, was a mixture of emanations of flowers such as roses, violets and jasmine, to the point that one speaks of osmogenesie as the charism proper to his holiness.”