I’m a priest, but every week I dedicate a few days to alcohol
Then God said: Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds… I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food!
Nikola Komušanac, the parish priest of the Velebit church of Krasno and the administrator of the sanctuary of the Mother of God of Krasno, followed this part of the creation of the world according to the Book of Genesis to realize his idea.
Indeed, I did not quite literally understand it, so I did not use the herbs, that God talks about, for food. I decided to use it for the production of the top Velebit brandy (travarica). I started experimenting in the late eighties when I arrived for church service at the Lika mountain.
I’ve been sharing top quality brandy for years with my colleagues – priests, bishops, pilgrims, anyone who liked it, and there were so many that liked it. Demand has been increasing, so I wanted to keep up with it, and fifteen years ago I founded a company and became a priest-entrepreneur.
Today, we produce between 200,000 and 300,000 thousand liters of alcoholic drinks and half of Europe and America “fight” for our brandy and liqueur. Without shame we can say that we produce the best brandies in the world – travarica, pelinkovac, amaro, kruškovac, orahovac, cherry brandy, medica, and Vila Velebita. In every drink there are alcohol and aroma, just like in every other drink in the world, but what makes our drink special is 21 kinds of medicinal Velebit herbs, whose aromas permeate in each bottle. From angelica, anise and blueberries to lemon balm, fennel and mint.
In the first place for me, there is a church, of course, and this sanctuary. Well, it’s logical, I am a priest, but at least one or two days a week I dedicate to alcohol.
And the whole story about the Velebit brandy began because of the slow Belgrade administration in Yugoslavia somewhere in the eighties.
I studied English in Canada and I had to go there to serve the church. Bishop called me and said: Nikola, take the parish church in Krasno only for a few months until you get a visa from Belgrade. So he went to Krasno and stayed for 23 years in this Siberia. I really love this Velebit, but who wouldn’t?
Surrounded by a rich flora and fauna, walking every day through Velebit, I saw more than 2700 species of plants and began to think about making a brandy.
I do not like to do anything alone, so this either. There were hundreds of experts, domestic and foreign, working on this brandy. They helped me about dosing, but my recipe is in all drinks. I have about one hundred recipes. It is important to immediately write down the recipe while making it, because luck is a very important factor there, just like a lottery.
Sometimes you do it well, sometimes not, but you have to care about every detail. For one drink we had 20 tastings. I love to drink, too. A few years ago my favorite drink was travarica (herbal liqueur), but now it may be a cherry brandy, it has changed with the years. But, it has to be careful with the quantities. Everything can be both healing and poisonous at the same time. I recommend a maximum of one deciliter a day.
Since the logistics in Krasno cannot follow the orders, we use the bottlers of Badel from Zagreb.
We have a plan to move it to Krasno in the foreseeable future. Here we have a space of 600 squares where we will do maceration, a process in which we put the grass in the foundation. They are permeating for one year. For liqueurs, the foundation is alcohol, grain, molasses, everything depends. Locals collect the grass, as well as collecting it for sale to pharmaceutical companies for teas and things like that. We need to give them to analysis to get a health certificate.
MOTHER OF GOD OF KRASNO
Under the name Krasno it was mentioned for the first time in 1275. The church of St. Mary was built in Krasno in the earlier times, so there is a data that it existed already in 1219. Krasno became famous for its holy place dedicated to the Mother of God.
“In the Krasno forest, as it was said in long pious story, shepherds took the herd of their sheep in the Krasno forest. One day they saw a miraculous flower on the stamp, and there was a picture of the Mother of God in the flower. The shepherds tore off the flower and brought it to the Krasnarsko polje (Field of Krasno) where was a chapel from ancient times. But that flower suddenly disappeared, and the shepherds found it again on the same stamp in the forest where they first saw it. This miracle repeated several times: they took a flower, and it returned on the stamp again. And when local people saw that, they built a chapel in the forest for the honor of the Mother of God; and over the tree where the flower has appeared, they raised the altar.
“Milan Pavelić writes and talks about the cases that he heard by the elders who said that blind people who came to Krasno got sight, deaf got hearing and the voiceless got speech.
They also said that in the valley beneath the chapel there were a lot of crutches thrown away by the lame people who came there with crutches and went home without them, completely healthy. And in his time there were many signs in the altar hollow, as the thanks to Our Lady’s grace. Seven cases were recorded, and he heard them from people who have been healed.”
There are transmitted thousands of these and similar stories among the people that talk about how Our Lady of Krasno helped in storms on the sea and accidents on land, in dangerous diseases, in dry years, and in all other troubles. There are, of course, many events among them, when the miraculous help of the Blessed Virgin stands out even more clearly.
In undisturbed silence and untouched nature, this place is perfect for prayer and thinking.
Even our writers didn’t disregard Krasno and Velebit: A. Simić, M. Pavelić, V. Novak.
And in the song “Naš čovo” Kranjčević mentions it:
I would go to the Mother of God in Krasno to get forgiveness before I die, because it could be too late later.
God did not scatter so much wealth anywhere in the world at such a short distances as he did it on Velebit. Sometimes it seems like the almighty hand of God, in creative enthusiasm, overwhelmed all its riches and beauty all over this place: all kinds of colors, all the abundance of plant and animal species, all the ineffability of the landscape. In Velebit, everything is close, everything is connected with friendly threads: pine and wolf, stone and bear, dew and air, sea and mountain, sky and earth, all is one, all is harmony.
That is why Velebit has always attracted, and particularly today, it envelops and attracts contemporary people, prisoners of city space, noise and machines, solitude and all kinds of alienation. In Velebit, in its springs, in the silence of the shrine of the Mother of God from Krasno, it seems like we return to childhood, like we are finding everything lost and what we are missing.
From here we return to being empowered physically and mentally, reconciled with ourselves, with all beings and with God, with the all primordial things. To meet with the primeval beauties of Velebit means to encounter the source of every beauty, it means at least for a moment to find the peace of our unhappy wanderer heart.
So dear man, go to Velebit and find a place of your soul and the peace of your heart, and meet your God.
MOTHER OF GOD OF KRASNO, PRAY FOR US!