Following on a previous post about a U.S.-based petition to convince Pope Benedict to ban smoking in the Vatican (yeah, right), Vatican Radio did a bit of snooping around the Eternal City and discovered that in the nineteenth century, Pope Pius IX built a papal tobacco factory to make cigars and such. Poor Pius IX was–and remains, at least to those who believe in freedom of religion and such things–a problematic figure. He was loathed by the Romans. When he was alive, they gave him the swinish moniker “Porco Pio Nono,” and when he was dead a few rascals tried do dump his casket in the Tiber. The tobacco factory may have been his most popular move. Alas, it counts as yet another strike against him today.
So the radio interviewed Fr. Reginald Foster, the pope’s personal (and brilliant) Latinist and an all around good fellow, whose regular gig on Vatican Radio bears the cheeky title, “The Latin Lover.” Check out their conversation about the pope’s tobacco roots.
PS: Also check out our terrific gallery of papal kitsch, including the custom-made scent that Pius IX himself used–perhaps to cover up the smell of cigars?