March 1, 2024

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

4 min read
Medieval Hungary: The Island - Saint Margaret and the Dominicans (new exhibition in Budapest)
A new temporary exhibition opened at the Budapest Background Museum, devoted to St Margaret and the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island. The story and fate of Saint Margaret, the thirteenth-century saintly princess, has generally captured the creativity of folks interested in historical past. The exhibition provides people a variety of artifacts never ahead of exhibited any where. The situation for the exhibition is the 750th anniversary of Margaret’s dying in 2020, and the fact that in the very last two decades our know-how of the spiritual institution that was the home of the younger princess of the Árpád dynasty has amplified considerably. This is largely many thanks to the research of Eszter Kovács, who passed away in 2018 and who had carried out various small-scale excavations in the region of the Dominican monastery. This is how the fragments of wall paintings, in all probability courting from the 14th and 15th hundreds of years, had been observed, which are on display for the 1st 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 introduced up as a youngster in the Dominican monastery in Veszprém, which had been established soon ahead of, and at the age of 10, she was transferred to the monastery on Margaret Island, which her parents had built. Throughout her canonization approach, the testimonies of her contemporaries, recorded in 1276, convey to of her dedicated, sacrificial, and self-sacrificing way of life, her unending religion in Christ, and the miracles that took position in her lifestyle and at her tomb. Margaret’s job model was her aunt, the sister of Béla IV, St Elizabeth of Hungary, who was canonized as early as 1235.

In spite of all makes an attempt and royal support, Margaret’s canonization was not reached in the Center Ages. It was her brother, Stephen V, who was the 1st to endeavor this: but neither he, nor Ladislas IV, nor their successors from the Home of Anjou were thriving. We do not know accurately when she was elevated to the Blessed, but there are quite a few records of this from the 15th century and we also know of many medieval depictions of Margaret. Her cult in Hungary produced quickly immediately after her dying: she was buried in front of the key sanctuary of the Dominican church, and later on an ornate white marble sarcophagus was created for her overall body, with reliefs depicting her miraculous deeds. Based on her oldest legend and the canonization documents, even further versions of the legend were being prepared, and a Hungarian-language edition was generated at the end of the Center Ages. The veneration of St Margaret has been pretty much unbroken around the hundreds of years. Her relics and bones ended up taken to Pozsony (Bratislava) by the nuns in the 16th century to escape the Ottoman threat. Most of the bones have been misplaced in the 18th century, but possibly her most well known relic, her penitential belt, has survived, and its ornate reliquary box and an authentic replica of the medieval item can also be admired in the exhibition. Also on display is the funerary crown of King Stephen V (Margaret’s brother), also buried on Margaret Island, from the collection of the Hungarian Nationwide Museum, the discovery of which in 1838 marked the commence of systematic excavations of the monastery ruins.

Funerary crown of King Stephen V (Hungarian Countrywide Museum)

Thanks to the excavations, the extent of the previous monastery and its church is well-acknowledged, and it has been achievable to reconstruct the most vital phases of its development. Among the the stunning effects of the current exploration are the fragments of wall paintings, most of which can now be noticed by the community for the to start with time thanks to the restoration work of Eszter Harsányi. Wall paintings have been located in numerous parts of the monastery, including the compact home where the staircase top from the monastery to the nuns’ choir was found in the late Middle Ages. The colourful pieces of plaster fragments preserving halos and faces hint at the marriage of St Margaret and her fellow nuns to photographs: her legend describes the job of Calvary illustrations or photos and other representations in her prayer and contemplation. 

Imitation marble portray from the monastery building

Ignác Roskovics: Saint Margaret (for the Royal Palace)

When the nuns were compelled to flee from the Ottoman assaults in the sixteenth century, the monastery complicated became deserted. It was only used in the course of sieges, for example as a field medical center through the recapture of Buda in 1686. The finest destruction, however, was not brought about by the wars, but by the landscaping of the island in the 19th century, when the operator of the location, Archduke Joseph of Austria, had it turned into an English back garden. Like so quite a few other monuments of the Hungarian Middle Ages, our graphic of the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island will have to be pieced alongside one another from little fragments. The current condition of research on Saint Margaret and her cult was presented at a conference arranged jointly by the Apostolic Congregation of the Dominican Sisters, the Károli Gáspár Reformed University, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, although the Budapest Background Museum has collected the content relics essential for the reconstruction. The exhibition will let us to remember the figure of Saint Margaret and the monastery where by she put in most of her existence and which grew to become the center of her cult.

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

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