Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Papal Cigar Factory

There is a sort of neo-Jansenism in Christian circles as to smoking. In our secular society, we are bombarded every day with the evils of smoking, and so we seem to be more concerned about regulating smoking than, say, regulating our sexual mores, our marriages, and so forth. This sort of rigorism has crept into the Church.

Remember, it is not what goes into a man which makes him foul, but what comes out from within. (Matt. 15:11)

In a perhaps more innocent time, tobacco was not seen as the devil's leaf. Indeed, the Pope had his own tobacco plant wherein he manufactured all sorts of tobacco--for snuff, for cigarettes, for pipes, and cigars. 

The building in which the tobacco business was housed still stands. It was known as the New Tobacco Factory because it was where the various tobacco operations were ultimately consolidated. The building, which is found in the Piazza Mastai, was built in 1863. Its architect was Antonio Sarti, and it has a similarity to the Colonnade du Louvre in Paris, though it is actually a narrow building in its seeming grandeur. 

 The Latin inscription, a detail of which I show below (double click on it to make it larger), makes it clear what its purpose was: 


Loosely translated, the the inscription is "Pius IX, Pope. Office of Tobacco Works, Built 1863." Nicotianis foliis means "nicotine leaves," which is clearly a reference to tobacco whose commercial possibilities were introduced to Europe by the French diplomat Jean Nicot. 

 The fountain at the center of the square was designed by Andrea Busiri Vici. As a result of this building, the various various tobacco operations of the Papal States could be consolidated into one place. This was the result of the plans initiated in 1859, by the Pontifical Director of Salt and Tobacco. Eventually, the building was acquired by the Italian government.

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