Monday, May 18, 2009
Shortly after coffee reached Rome, according to a much quoted legend, it was again threatened with religious fanaticism, which almost caused its excommunication from Christendom. It is related that certain priests appealed to Pope Clement VIII (1535–1605) to have its use forbidden among Christians, denouncing it as an invention of Satan. They claimed that the Evil One, having forbidden his followers, the infidel Moslems, the use of wine—no doubt because it was sanctified by Christ and used in the Holy Communion—had given them as a substitute this hellish black brew of his which they called coffee. For Christians to drink it was to risk falling into a trap set by Satan for their souls. It is further related that the pope, made curious, desired to inspect this Devil's drink, and had some brought to him. The aroma of it was so pleasant and inviting that the pope was tempted to try a cupful. After drinking it, he exclaimed, "Why, this Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it, and making it a truly Christian beverage."