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

A new short-term exhibition opened at the Budapest Background Museum, focused to St Margaret and the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island. The tale and destiny of Saint Margaret, the thirteenth-century saintly princess, has normally captured the creativity of persons interested in historical past. The exhibition gives people a assortment of artifacts never ahead of exhibited any place. The event for the exhibition is the 750th anniversary of Margaret’s death in 2020, and the point that in the past two a long time our knowledge of the spiritual establishment that was the property of the younger princess of the Árpád dynasty has greater substantially. This is principally thanks to the investigation of Eszter Kovács, who passed absent in 2018 and who experienced carried out many modest-scale excavations in the spot of the Dominican monastery. This is how the fragments of wall paintings, most likely relationship from the 14th and 15th hundreds of years, have been uncovered, which are on display for the to start with 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 boy or girl in the Dominican monastery in Veszprém, which had been started soon prior to, and at the age of 10, she was transferred to the monastery on Margaret Island, which her mom and dad experienced crafted. Throughout her canonization system, the testimonies of her contemporaries, recorded in 1276, explain to of her committed, sacrificial, and self-sacrificing way of living, her endless religion in Christ, and the miracles that took place in her existence 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.

Inspite of all tries and royal support, Margaret’s canonization was not realized in the Middle 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 House of Anjou ended up profitable. We never know just when she was elevated to the Blessed, but there are many information of this from the 15th century and we also know of numerous medieval depictions of Margaret. Her cult in Hungary formulated shortly right after her dying: she was buried in front of the most important sanctuary of the Dominican church, and later on an ornate white marble sarcophagus was produced for her overall body, with reliefs depicting her miraculous deeds. Based mostly on her oldest legend and the canonization documents, more versions of the legend had been written, and a Hungarian-language edition was manufactured at the finish of the Middle Ages. The veneration of St Margaret has been nearly unbroken around the hundreds of years. Her relics and bones had been taken to Pozsony (Bratislava) by the nuns in the 16th century to escape the Ottoman risk. Most of the bones were lost in the 18th century, but most likely her most popular relic, her penitential belt, has survived, and its ornate reliquary box and an reliable reproduction of the medieval object 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 National Museum)

Thanks to the excavations, the extent of the former monastery and its church is well-acknowledged, and it has been attainable to reconstruct the most significant phases of its building. Between the amazing outcomes of the current investigate are the fragments of wall paintings, most of which can now be found by the public for the first time thanks to the restoration perform of Eszter Harsányi. Wall paintings have been uncovered in a number of sections of the monastery, including the small home exactly where the staircase major from the monastery to the nuns’ choir was found in the late Center Ages. The colourful pieces of plaster fragments preserving halos and faces hint at the romantic relationship of St Margaret and her fellow nuns to photos: her legend describes the function of Calvary photographs and other representations in her prayer and contemplation. 

Imitation marble portray from the monastery constructing

Ignác Roskovics: Saint Margaret (for the Royal Palace)

When the nuns had been compelled to flee from the Ottoman attacks in the sixteenth century, the monastery complicated turned deserted. It was only used for the duration of sieges, for case in point as a area clinic all through the recapture of Buda in 1686. The biggest destruction, nonetheless, was not caused by the wars, but by the landscaping of the island in the 19th century, when the proprietor of the region, 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 should be pieced with each other from small fragments. The current point out of investigation on Saint Margaret and her cult was presented at a meeting organized jointly by the Apostolic Congregation of the Dominican Sisters, the Károli Gáspár Reformed University, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, when the Budapest Background Museum has collected the product relics important for the reconstruction. The exhibition will make it possible for us to remember the determine of Saint Margaret and the monastery in which she invested most of her lifetime and which grew to become the center 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 check out until eventually March 19, 2023.

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

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