The cistercian abbey of Casamari was built in Veroli, a town in the province of Frosinone, above the ruins of the old roman town hall. The town was known as Cereatae and was dedicated to the goddes Ceres, goddes of agriculture.
“When one, back then, arrived in Casamari, one would have seen a place as beautiful as Paradise, whose monks were like angels in mortal bodies. (…) This monastery was a pillar of the church in Veroli, a place of infinite good, and as elegant as the sky.”
ANTICA CRONACA VEROLANA
The abbey was later named Casamari (which in latin means “House of Marius”) because it was once home to Gaius Marius, a roman general who fought Silla in the roman civil war of 88 b.C.
The abbey was built in 1203, when the benedictine monks first moved there, and was consacrated in 1217. It is one of the most important exaples of gothic cistercian architecture in Italy. The strength and simplicity of cistercian monastery mirrors the order’s history and spirituality.
In 1929, the Casamari Congregation (congregatio casamariensis) was canonically accepted as monastic congretation, joinin the other cistercian congregation. This congregation consists of 130 monks in 12 monsteries, all linked to the main monastery in Casamari. The church became a minor basilica in 1957, after pope Pius XII‘s papal brief.
The current Abbot is Loreto Camilli, who served as prior of the Abbey untill the death (due to covid-19) of the previous abbot, Eugenio Romagnuolo.
For centuries, the cistercian monks were famous for their teas, creams ointments and syrups, which they only used to heal themselves and the pilgrims who came to their abbeys. At first, the production of liquors was done by the pharmacy, since they were also used as medicines. In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the monks started researching and diversifying between medicines and spirits, in order to make them more appealing for any customers.
One of the most important people during this time was Eutimio Zannucoli, who was responsible for growing and harvesting cane sugar (which the monks use to produce lemon balm, an important ingredient in some of their products). Eutimio Zannucoli is almost responsible for inventing the Imperial Tincture, also known as Imperial Drops.
Other famous liquors include the nocino, the liquorice, the rhubarb Saint Bernard Elixir, the Gran Liquore (whose main ingredient is wildflower honey), as well as other drinks, such as the Coffee Rosolio, the mandarin Stomatic Rosolio, the anise Sambuca, etc.
After the laws changed, the monks were forced to stop using their rudimentary tools. However, they decided to keep the flask-shaped bottles.
The monks also produces nutritional supplements, body creams and honeys.