Pope Clement VIII Approves Coffee For Christian Consumption

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Image retrieved from The St. Peter's List Store on July 23, 2014.

But although coffee enjoyed almost immediate acceptance, as tradition has it, there were some religious fanatics (this time Christian), hostile to Islam and its prophet, who denounced it as an "invention of Satan." They petitioned the Pope, asking to have coffee forbidden to Christians. It was an evil potation. the denouncers reasoned, because Muhammad had provided it as a replacement for wine and had no doubt forbidden his followers to imbibe the fermented juice of the grape because it was a Christian beverage sanctified as the blood of Christ in Holy Communion. However, when the Pope tried a steaming cup of it, so the tale goes, he thought it was such an excellent drink that he remarked, "We shall fool Satan by baptizing it and making it a truly Christian beverage."

pp. 15 Coffee and Tea: The Complete Guide To Evaluating, Buying, Preparing, And Enjoying Every Variety Of Coffee And Tea by Elin McCoy & John Frederick Walker (1991) Third Edition

One possible objection to coffee in Europe--its association with Islam--was dispelled around this time. Shortly before his death in 1605, Pope Clement VIII was asked to state the Catholic church's position on coffee. At this time, the drink was a novelty little known in Europe except among botanists and medical men, including those at the University of Padua, a leading center for medical research. Coffee's religious opponents argued that coffee was evil: They contended that since Muslims were unable to drink wine, the holy drink of Christians, the devil had punished them with coffee instead. But the pope had the final say. A Venetian merchant provided a small sample for inspection, and Clement decided to taste the new drink before making his decision. The story goes that he was so enchanted by its taste and aroma that he approved its consumption by Christians.

pp. 140-141 A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage (2005)

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