The other day, on the feast day of St. Catherine of Sienna, I mentioned the famous wine called Châteauneuf-du- Pape. I mentioned it because this is the wine that comes from the Rhone Valley of Southern France. It’s famous not because of its exceptional quality but because of why those vines were originally planted.
Back during the Avignon Papacy, when the pope fled Rome and was living in Southern France, he needed wine. The pope, of course, had to have wine grapes on his estate. So those vines were planted to supply the papal household. Because of this special designation, the wine was entitled to bear the papal coat of arms on its bottles, much like the Basilica is allowed to display the papal coat of arms. Even today you can see those bottles are different from the others by the crossed keys and papal tiara molded into the bottle.
The wine is good and all, if you like wine, but is an interesting way to taste a bit of history and experience the remnant of a important moment in Church and civil history. The reason that I brought it up was that Saint Catherine was the persistent holy woman who pleaded with the pope to come back to Italy. Her persistence and effort paid off greatly and benefited the church and the world. Although there are no religious orders which make this wine, there are many religious orders and houses of monastic formation which do make many goods we enjoy today. The Trappists and their fantastic beers. The Carthusian monks of The Grand Chartreuse and their famous elixir Chartreuse. There are many tastes of history—past and present—which we can look about and see in historic cheeses, wines, etc.
There are still many houses today which make specific goods, that if you search hard enough, you can find and buy. There are websites, one being ‘Monastery Greetings’ where you can find all sorts of drinks, foods, baked goods, and other items; these goods aren’t just high quality, but purchasing them allows us to continue to support those houses of prayer which pray for us daily. The website is www.monasterygreetings.com and you might want to take a look. There’s plenty to peruse. I just thought I’d share and encourage you to look beyond a label and learn some world history, some Church history! Have a great week!
Fr. Scott and Fr. Mark plan to trade months in offering a weekly reflection or catechesis in our future bulletins. Be sure to check out what they have to share!