Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 19 September |
Our Lady of La Salette
home iconTravel
line break icon

8 “Holy” spirits born in the monasteries

Marzena Devoud - published on 11/19/18

The editors of Aleteia have discovered the treasures of the cellars of the abbeys and selected 10 liqueurs that will hopefully delight you.

Various monasteries in France, Italy and Eastern Europe have been producing beer, wine, liqueur and brandy since the Middle Ages.

Elixirs based on wine, plants or medicinal spices were one of the main pillars of medieval pharmacopoeia. Upon the arrival of the alembic distiller, invented in the East, religious congregations learned how to produce alcohol by macerating plants in alcohol made from fruit or grains, or by distilling fruit or wine to obtain brandy.

However, it wasn’t until the 17th century that we witnessed the development of monastic liqueurs in France and Italy. A century later, these drinks began to become popular and to be marketed.

In France they were so appreciated that the Crown asked Jacques-François Demachy, a pharmacist responsible for the Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Paris, to codify the manufacture of these drinks in order to put an end to the abuses and anarchy that reigned in that nascent market.

400-year-old secret recipes

Jean-Pierre Clatot | AFP

Chartreuse is one of the most famous liqueurs. It was born in 1605, and according to the history of the Carthusian order, which still owns the recipe and the brand, it was Marshal d’Estrées who supplied the original recipe to the monks of the Carthusian monastery of Vauvert in Paris. It was, however, the monastery of the Grande Chartreuse of Isère that took over its production in 1737, following a recipe inspired by the original one and developed by the monastery pharmacist, Brother Jérôme Maubec. This formula continues to be used today by monks to produce the famous green liqueur.

Other monasteries and abbeys followed suit, some as early as the 18th century, others more recently, taking advantage of the enthusiasm that these monastic drinks have always aroused. The monks of Lérins, Sénanque and of Sainte-Marie-du-Désert continue to make centuries-old liqueurs in the purest tradition, as well as more recent recipes, as custodians of a magnificent heritage that many envy.

Aleteia has selected eight of these elixirs, which can be tasted as an aperitif or as a digestive … but in moderation!

To discover our selection of monastic liqueurs, scroll through the photo gallery.


Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
Mathilde De Robien
How a lost masterpiece of sacred art was discovered thanks to chi...
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.