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.

 

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

K’lee & Dales’ Cosmic Photo Challenge: Sparkle

Sparkle Plenty

Sapphire set of Queen Marie Amélie bought back by the Louvre in 1985.

Sapphire parure that belonged to Marie Amélie of Naples and Sicily (Maria Amalia Teresa; 26 April 1782 – 24 March 1866) who became Queen of the French while married to Louis Philippe I, King of the French.

The word “parure” originally referred to a set of three or more matching pieces of jewelry, but was later widened to include a suite of matching jewelry. Parures were most popular from around 1760 to 1830, particularly during the Napoleonic era. Queen Marie Amelie’s parure was designed and executed after Louis Philippe ascended the throne of France. The parure is a combination of sapphires, diamonds and pearls. The parure remained  in the hands of  Marie Amélie’s descendents until it was acquired by the Louvre in 1985, where it is on display in the Apollo gallery with other items from the French crown jewels.

There are many similarities between the parure above and that worn in a painting of Queen Marie Amélie by French painter Louis Hersent.

Portrait of Marie Amelia, Queen of France

K’lee & Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge: Sparkle

Saturday Statues: Royalty

Queens are Wild, Make That Empresses

Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Vienna, Austria

Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Vienna, Austria

Keeping with the royal theme in Suvi’s Saturday Statues challenge this week, behold Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

Consolidated from Wikipedia entry:

Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (German: Maria Theresia) lived from 13 May 1717 – 29 November 1780, and was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Transylvania, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma. By marriage, she was Duchess of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Holy Roman Empress.

She started her 40-year reign when her father, Emperor Charles VI, died in October 1740. Charles VI paved the way for her accession with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 and spent his entire reign securing it. Upon the death of her father, Saxony, Prussia, Bavaria, and France all repudiated the sanction they had recognised during his lifetime. Prussia proceeded to invade the affluent Habsburg province of Silesia, sparking a nine-year conflict known as the War of the Austrian Succession, and subsequently conquered it. Maria Theresa would later unsuccessfully try to reconquer Silesia during the Seven Years’ War.

Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, had sixteen children, including Maria Antoinette, the Queen of France, and two Holy Roman Emperors, Joseph II and Leopold II. She had eleven daughters and five sons, ten of which survived to adulthood. Maria Theresa understood the importance of her public persona and was able to simultaneously evoke both esteem and affection from her subjects.  She promulgated financial and educational reforms, promoted commerce and the development of agriculture, and reorganised Austria’s ramshackle military, all of which strengthened Austria’s international standing. However, she refused to allow religious toleration and contemporary travelers thought her regime was bigoted and superstitious. As a young monarch who fought two dynastic wars, she believed that her cause should be the cause of her subjects, but in her later years she would believe that their cause must be hers. 

Saturday Statues #4

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