Doctor concocts heavenly scent

From cookbook recipe, cologne worn by Pope Pius IX attracts positive feedback from buyers.

The Vatican meets Chanel No. 5.

In a San Rafael, Calif., kitchen, a 69-year-old doctor says he has re-created the custom cologne worn in the 19th century by Pope Pius IX, the longest-reigning pope aside from possibly St. Peter.

So what did this famous pontiff — the one who established the Immaculate Conception and papal infallibility as church dogma — smell like?

“Surprisingly fresh, with notes of citrus and violet,” said Dr. Fred Hass, a general practitioner who works in Terra Linda. “Very nice, actually.”

Hass found the purported recipe about seven years ago in a limited-edition 1963 cookbook published in the United States. The cookbook says the recipe is believed to have been passed down by the family of a French general who was in Pius’ papal guard.

Hass tried making the concoction in his kitchen and was so impressed by the light, fresh fragrance that he started making it in larger quantities to give to family and friends. He read everything he could about the science of perfume and papal history. He ordered essential oils in bulk and wholesale cologne bottles, and affixed to each a brief history and likeness of Pope Pius IX.

Now he’s ready for retail. He has 2,000 bottles in his garage and has streamlined the manufacturing process so he can fill a bottle every 10 seconds.

He said he’s sold a few of the 2-ounce bottles online for $24.99 each and has had encouraging feedback from Nordstrom, Barneys New York, the Guerlain cosmetics and perfume company, and Catholic gift shops.

Hass requested that the exact recipe of the cologne and cookbook’s title not be disclosed because he doesn’t want competition.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday January 2, 2007.
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