Unexpected Surprises in 2018 #2

An Ode to Santa Joana Principesa

She began life as a princess in 1452, died as a Dominican nun in 1490, and was beatified two centuries later. Even though she has never been canonized, she is known in Portugal as Santa Joana Principesa, or Princess Saint Joan. More properly, she is the Blessed Joan of Portugal.

Today, the Dominican Convent of Jesus, in which Joana spent her religious life is part of the Museum of Aveiro.  Established in 1458, the convent became state property after the 1834 dissolution of religious orders in Portugal. The contemporary galleries of the museum contain a large collection of religious art, most of which belonged to the Convent of Jesus and other area convents. The convent became a museum in 1911.

Princess Joana of the House of Aziz was the daughter of King Afonso V of Portugal. As a young woman, she longed for the religious life. Because she was a royal princess and in line for the throne, her father and brother refused. They wanted her to marry to establish a political alliance and, if needed, produce an heir. She refused all offers.  In 1472 she entered the Convent of Jesus in Aviero. She lived a life of religious devotion and was admired even during her life; her royal connection added to the prestige of the convent.

Baroque painting from the Life of Santa Joana cycle, by Manuel Ferreira e Sousa, 1729. Joana and other characters are dressed in 18th-century costume while depicting 15h century events.

Portrait of Principesa Santa Joana, 1471. The portrait was painted while Joana served as regent during the absence of her father.

The Dominicans were a cloistered order and what little contact they had with the outside world took place in the Convent Gateway. Goods and messages, and occasionally an infant, were passed through the wheel. Visits with family and siblings took place through a larger screen allowing some visual contact.

Separation took place even during religious services. In the Church of Jesus, the convent’s small church, screens separated the nun’s choir stalls, on both levels of the church, from the nave of the church.

Screen looking down into the Church of Jesus from the Upper Choir Stalls

Chapter House and Upper Choir Stalls

Because of her royal status, however, Joana was allowed to visit court and often became embroiled in palace politics. Even while she lead a religious life, her father and brother continued to try to arrange a marriage for her, including a proposed alliance with Richard III of England.

A revival of interest in Santa Joana occurred in the 18th century.  The Life of Princess Santa Joana painting cycle, on the side walls of the Baroque Church of Jesus, is signed by the Portuguese artist Manuel Ferreira e Sousa. The paintings date to 1729.

Painting of Santa Joana Principesa, Church of Jesus, 1729

Azulejo tiles, Scene of Santa Joana arriving at the convent, Church of Jesus

Constant expansion and improvements to the Convent in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries hide most of the Gothic origins of the complex.

Gothic door frame surrounded by Baroque decoration

Church of Jesus in the Dominican Convent of Jesus

Convent Cloister Courtyard

Joana died in 1490 at the young age of 38. Some sources say she was poisoned by an vindictive woman at court while on a visit. In 1734 a room at the Convent was decorated with gilded wood framing paintings of her life, including a scene of her death. The cross she is said to have been holding when she died is displayed adjacent to the painting.

Santa Joana Deathbed Scene, 1734

Cross said to have been held by Joana at her death

Before Joana died, she asked to be buried in a simple way, and her wish was granted. After her beatification in 1693, however, permission was given to created an ornate, inlaid Italian marble tomb. The lower choir stalls area, converted to hold the tomb, was also decorated with inlaid marble, stone, and gilded wood. The project took 11 years to complete. The screen separating the lower choir stalls from the main body of the church was retained. Santa Joana tomb was and is a pilgrimage site for those who look to Santa Joana.

Tomb of Santa Joana, Lower Choir, Church of Jesus, Convent of Jesus

From the information I have found, there is no specific miracle, incident or action that resulted in the veneration of Santa Joana. She was admired for her resistance to marrying, for her service to her religious community, and for her humility. The fact she was royalty must have also played a role. Veneration of Santa Joana continues today. The City of Aveiro marks May 12, the anniversary of her death, as municipal public holiday.

 

Outstanding Standing Out

For King Erik the Mad

Costume from Erik XIV, 1974, designed by Lars Juhl, hand woven by Else Duch, The Theater Museum at the Court Theater, Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark

The King’s costume from Erik XIV by August Strindberg. The 1974 Kaspar Rostrup production was staged at The Royal Theater in Copenhagen, with costumes designed by Lars Juhl and hand woven by Else Duch. Several of the costumes are currently displayed on the stage of The Theater Museum at the Court Theater, Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Eric XIV was King of Sweden from 1560 until he was deposed in 1568. Early in his reign he showed signs of mental instability and eventually became insane. After being deposed, he was imprisoned and possibly murdered. A  1959 examination of his remains showed he may have died of arsenic poisoning.

Join Lens-Artist’s Photo Challenge 18: Blending In or Standing Out

Gilded Thrones

Royal Gold

Throne Room, Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Throne Room in Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark. The thrones, reminders of the period of Denmark’s absolute monarchy (1660 to 1848), are no longer used. The king’s throne, on the left, is adorned with two golden lions; the queen’s throne, on the right, features two mythical creatures called griffons. The oval room is now used for greeting dignitaries during state visits. Christiansborg Palace has burned twice, in 1794 and 1884. The current palace was built between 1907 and 1928. The thrones were rescued from the 1884 fire.

Join Nancy’s A Photo A Week: Gilded

Karnak The Magnificent

Larger Than Life

The great hypostyle hall, Karnak Temple, El-Karnak, Luxor Governorate, Egypt

Join Frank’s Tuesday Photo Challenge: Go Big

Baubles and Bangles

After palaces, castles, and old churches, what do I like best: jewels. Big, gaudy jewels. And the Danish crown jewels aren’t bad.

In the sub-sub basement beneath Rosenborg Castle you can visit the treasury, in which some beautiful things are displayed along side the jewels.

Christian IV’s crown dates from 1596 and is the oldest crown in Denmark.

The crowns used between 1671 and 1731 by the “absolute monarchs.” Labels in all the places I visited were very precise noting items, monuments, and actions related to the period of the absolute monarchs, as opposed to today’s constitutional monarchy.

The crown jewels (four sets) can only be worn by the queen and only in Denmark. They were willed to the crown in 1746 by Queen Sophie Magdalene.

A few other trinkets in the Treasury. The glass cases make the photos a bit fuzzy.

Copenhagen Canal Tour

It was a sunny but brisk day in Copenhagen. Perfect for a late afternoon canal tour.

Departed from Nyhavn, or new harbor. Now a trendy and tourist area, it used to be a bad section of town.

The Opera House, a gift to the country from Denmark’s richest man.

The National Theater

One of the kings liked Amsterdam so he built canals.

There are lots of low bridges.

You can climb the spire of Our Savior’s Church. Spot the tiny people.

Three entwined dragons top the Borsen, a 17th-century stock exchange. The dragons represent Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Back to Nyhavn.

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