March 5, 2024


Built General Tough

Medieval Hungary: The Island – Saint Margaret and the Dominicans (new exhibition in Budapest)

Medieval Hungary: The Island - Saint Margaret and the Dominicans (new exhibition in Budapest)

A new short-term exhibition opened at the Budapest Heritage Museum, committed to St Margaret and the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island. The story and destiny of Saint Margaret, the thirteenth-century saintly princess, has always captured the creativeness of individuals intrigued in record. The exhibition provides readers a variety of artifacts never ever right before exhibited any where. The event for the exhibition is the 750th anniversary of Margaret’s loss of life in 2020, and the reality that in the very last two decades our know-how of the spiritual institution that was the home of the young princess of the Árpád dynasty has improved considerably. This is mostly many thanks to the exploration of Eszter Kovács, who handed absent in 2018 and who experienced carried out quite a few tiny-scale excavations in the area of the Dominican monastery. This is how the fragments of wall paintings, most likely dating from the 14th and 15th generations, ended up located, which are on screen for the initial time in this exhibition.

Margaret, the daughter of King Béla IV, was born in 1242 at the time of the Mongol invasion.  We know that she was brought up as a youngster in the Dominican monastery in Veszprém, which experienced been launched soon before, and at the age of 10, she was transferred to the monastery on Margaret Island, which her dad and mom had created. During her canonization process, the testimonies of her contemporaries, recorded in 1276, tell of her focused, sacrificial, and self-sacrificing way of life, her endless religion in Christ, and the miracles that took place in her everyday living and at her tomb. Margaret’s position design was her aunt, the sister of Béla IV, St Elizabeth of Hungary, who was canonized as early as 1235.

Despite all tries and royal aid, Margaret’s canonization was not obtained in the Center Ages. It was her brother, Stephen V, who was the to start with to endeavor this: but neither he, nor Ladislas IV, nor their successors from the Dwelling of Anjou ended up effective. We will not know accurately when she was elevated to the Blessed, but there are a lot of records of this from the 15th century and we also know of several medieval depictions of Margaret. Her cult in Hungary formulated before long following her demise: she was buried in front of the primary sanctuary of the Dominican church, and afterwards an ornate white marble sarcophagus was made for her system, with reliefs depicting her miraculous deeds. Based mostly on her oldest legend and the canonization information, additional versions of the legend were being created, and a Hungarian-language model was made at the close of the Center Ages. The veneration of St Margaret has been nearly unbroken in excess of the centuries. Her relics and bones were taken to Pozsony (Bratislava) by the nuns in the 16th century to escape the Ottoman risk. Most of the bones ended up lost in the 18th century, but most likely her most famous relic, her penitential belt, has survived, and its ornate reliquary box and an reliable replica of the medieval item can also be admired in the exhibition. Also on exhibit is the funerary crown of King Stephen V (Margaret’s brother), also buried on Margaret Island, from the collection of the Hungarian National Museum, the discovery of which in 1838 marked the begin of systematic excavations of the monastery ruins.

Funerary crown of King Stephen V (Hungarian Countrywide Museum)

Thanks to the excavations, the extent of the former monastery and its church is effectively-recognized, and it has been doable to reconstruct the most vital phases of its design. Among the amazing success of the current exploration are the fragments of wall paintings, most of which can now be witnessed by the general public for the first time many thanks to the restoration work of Eszter Harsányi. Wall paintings have been uncovered in numerous elements of the monastery, including the little place wherever the staircase top from the monastery to the nuns’ choir was positioned in the late Center Ages. The colourful pieces of plaster fragments preserving halos and faces trace at the connection of St Margaret and her fellow nuns to pictures: her legend describes the role of Calvary visuals and other representations in her prayer and contemplation. 

Imitation marble painting from the monastery developing

Ignác Roskovics: Saint Margaret (for the Royal Palace)

When the nuns ended up forced to flee from the Ottoman assaults in the sixteenth century, the monastery intricate turned abandoned. It was only used throughout sieges, for example as a field hospital in the course of the recapture of Buda in 1686. The biggest destruction, nevertheless, was not brought on by the wars, but by the landscaping of the island in the 19th century, when the proprietor of the place, Archduke Joseph of Austria, had it turned into an English yard. Like so quite a few other monuments of the Hungarian Middle Ages, our image of the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island have to be pieced jointly from tiny fragments. The recent condition of analysis on Saint Margaret and her cult was presented at a convention structured jointly by the Apostolic Congregation of the Dominican Sisters, the Károli Gáspár Reformed College, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, though the Budapest Historical past Museum has collected the material relics important for the reconstruction. The exhibition will let us to recall the determine of Saint Margaret and the monastery where she expended most of her existence and which became the heart of her cult.

The curator of the exhibition is Ágoston Takács. This textual content is dependent on the speech I gave at the opening of the exhibition on November 17, 2022. The exhibition is on watch right until March 19, 2023.

Zsombor Jékely talking at the opening ceremony – Picture by Magyar Kurír