"The Lord has brought forth medicinal herbs from the ground, and no one sensible will despise them. He has also given some people knowledge, so that they may draw credit from his mighty works. He uses these for healing and relieving pain; the druggist makes up a mixture from them."
(Sirach 38, 4-7).
Soul health must be accompanied by body health. Bearing in mind the Bible teachings, enriching them with popular wisdom and direct observation, generations of monks have learned how to use of the secrets of the herbs.
In 1584 the convent of the Discalced Carmelite Friars of Sant'Anna in Genoa was the first Italian settlement of this order, about twenty years after Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross had begun the new Carmelite family in Spain.
The first historical documents relating to our pharmacy date back to 1650, a few decades after the founding: they tell about Brother Martino di S. Antonio (1638-1721) and about the "Pharmacy" of the Discalced Carmelites.
Ancient records report that "he went out every day to get whatever was necessary for the remedies [...] many sick persons flocked to him and not all of them were cured with the same remedy, [...] it was necessary to make various potions, drugs, poultices."
Martino was full of charisma and was able to administer the right medication at the right time. Often his mere presence reassured the patients. He knew that in treating a disease, the first thing is to give full attention to the patients. And that physical and mental health are as one.
In 1778 Lorenzo Robello, a respected doctor, signed a convention to prepare medicines for the convent and teach his art to a friar who was destined to become "apothecary".
In 1792 the administration of the pharmacy, that was in deep waters, was entrusted to Brother Domenico De Simoni, who assumed the name of John of the Cross. Thanks to his commitment he turned it around and, in 1798, he made a profit of 1,580 lire.
The records of the pharmacy also show the specialties and the customers' names.
Manna, worming tablets, white sugar, decoctions of china-root, salts of England, cinnamon, rosolio, poppy-flower ointment, an interesting "spirituous drink of incense, myrrh, aloe and spirit of wine " and the ointment for scabies were among the most used products.
Among the customers, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, appear doctor Angelo Bruzick, surgeon Rocco Artisi from Voltri, the consul of Denmark Giuseppe Alessi Morellet, a regular consumer of Elixir Vitae, the pharmacy of Pammatone Genoese hospital, which purchased chinaroot extract and dried red rose, the parish priest of Crocefieschi, the Discalced Carmelites of Santa Teresa, the nuns of San Silvestro and those of San Girolamo.
A few years later, the pharmacy had contacts with a celebrated and discussed Parisian physician, Dr. Louis Le Roy, author of "The curative medicine" published in Naples in 1825 in four volumes.
Today the activity of the Carmelite friars continue combining old and new. Today's laboratories are modern, the help of science has allowed us to refine processes. But the recipes are the old ones, the ingredients the same as always: exclusively natural.