April 20, 2024


Simple Impartial Art

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 History Museum, focused to St Margaret and the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island. The tale and fate of Saint Margaret, the thirteenth-century saintly princess, has always captured the imagination of people intrigued in heritage. The exhibition offers visitors a choice of artifacts never right before exhibited everywhere. The event for the exhibition is the 750th anniversary of Margaret’s demise in 2020, and the reality that in the very last two a long time our expertise of the spiritual institution that was the household of the young princess of the Árpád dynasty has improved significantly. This is primarily thanks to the research of Eszter Kovács, who handed absent in 2018 and who had carried out many tiny-scale excavations in the spot of the Dominican monastery. This is how the fragments of wall paintings, probably courting from the 14th and 15th hundreds of years, have been observed, which are on screen for the very first 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 kid 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 moms and dads had built. All through her canonization course of action, the testimonies of her contemporaries, recorded in 1276, notify of her committed, sacrificial, and self-sacrificing way of life, her endless faith in Christ, and the miracles that took put in her existence and at her tomb. Margaret’s part design 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 Middle Ages. It was her brother, Stephen V, who was the very first to try this: but neither he, nor Ladislas IV, nor their successors from the Household of Anjou have been effective. We never know particularly when she was elevated to the Blessed, but there are quite a few documents of this from the 15th century and we also know of quite a few medieval depictions of Margaret. Her cult in Hungary formulated before long just after her demise: she was buried in front of the major sanctuary of the Dominican church, and later on an ornate white marble sarcophagus was made for her overall body, with reliefs depicting her miraculous deeds. Based on her oldest legend and the canonization data, further more variations of the legend were composed, and a Hungarian-language edition was generated at the end of the Middle Ages. The veneration of St Margaret has been practically unbroken about 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 danger. Most of the bones were misplaced in the 18th century, but probably her most well known relic, her penitential belt, has survived, and its ornate reliquary box and an reliable duplicate of the medieval object can also be admired in the exhibition. Also on display screen 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 start of systematic excavations of the monastery ruins.

Funerary crown of King Stephen V (Hungarian Nationwide Museum)

Many thanks to the excavations, the extent of the former monastery and its church is properly-regarded, and it has been feasible to reconstruct the most essential phases of its development. Amongst the amazing benefits of the recent study are the fragments of wall paintings, most of which can now be observed by the public for the initially time thanks to the restoration work of Eszter Harsányi. Wall paintings have been identified in several sections of the monastery, like the tiny area the place the staircase foremost from the monastery to the nuns’ choir was found in the late Center Ages. The vibrant items of plaster fragments preserving halos and faces hint at the romantic relationship of St Margaret and her fellow nuns to illustrations or photos: her legend describes the job of Calvary illustrations or photos 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 were being compelled to flee from the Ottoman attacks in the sixteenth century, the monastery complicated became abandoned. It was only made use of throughout sieges, for case in point as a industry medical center during the recapture of Buda in 1686. The finest destruction, however, was not brought on by the wars, but by the landscaping of the island in the 19th century, when the owner of the place, Archduke Joseph of Austria, experienced it turned into an English backyard. Like so numerous other monuments of the Hungarian Middle Ages, our graphic of the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island have to be pieced jointly from little fragments. The present-day state of investigation on Saint Margaret and her cult was offered at a conference arranged jointly by the Apostolic Congregation of the Dominican Sisters, the Károli Gáspár Reformed University, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, while the Budapest Historical past Museum has collected the material relics essential for the reconstruction. The exhibition will allow for us to remember the figure of Saint Margaret and the monastery in which she put in most of her lifestyle and which turned the middle 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 perspective right until March 19, 2023.

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