Medieval Hungary: The Island – Saint Margaret and the Dominicans (new exhibition in Budapest)
A new short-term exhibition opened at the Budapest Record Museum, dedicated to St Margaret and the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island. The story and fate of Saint Margaret, the thirteenth-century saintly princess, has constantly captured the creativity of men and women intrigued in heritage. The exhibition provides website visitors a collection of artifacts in no way just before exhibited anywhere. The event for the exhibition is the 750th anniversary of Margaret’s demise in 2020, and the reality that in the previous two a long time our understanding of the spiritual establishment that was the house of the young princess of the Árpád dynasty has elevated significantly. This is principally many thanks to the study of Eszter Kovács, who passed away in 2018 and who experienced carried out quite a few modest-scale excavations in the space of the Dominican monastery. This is how the fragments of wall paintings, likely relationship from the 14th and 15th centuries, had been found, which are on display screen for the 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 boy or girl in the Dominican monastery in Veszprém, which had been launched shortly prior to, and at the age of 10, she was transferred to the monastery on Margaret Island, which her mother and father experienced constructed. For the duration of her canonization approach, the testimonies of her contemporaries, recorded in 1276, notify of her committed, sacrificial, and self-sacrificing way of living, her unending faith in Christ, and the miracles that took place in her life 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 tries and royal assistance, Margaret’s canonization was not realized in the Center Ages. It was her brother, Stephen V, who was the initially to endeavor this: but neither he, nor Ladislas IV, nor their successors from the Household of Anjou were being productive. We never know specifically when she was elevated to the Blessed, but there are many information of this from the 15th century and we also know of several medieval depictions of Margaret. Her cult in Hungary designed shortly immediately after her dying: she was buried in front of the key sanctuary of the Dominican church, and later an ornate white marble sarcophagus was made for her body, with reliefs depicting her miraculous deeds. Dependent on her oldest legend and the canonization records, even more variations of the legend ended up prepared, and a Hungarian-language variation was created at the stop of the Middle Ages. The veneration of St Margaret has been pretty much unbroken in excess of the hundreds of years. Her relics and bones were taken to Pozsony (Bratislava) by the nuns in the 16th century to escape the Ottoman menace. Most of the bones were being misplaced in the 18th century, but most likely her most famed relic, her penitential belt, has survived, and its ornate reliquary box and an genuine reproduction of the medieval object can also be admired in the exhibition. Also on show is the funerary crown of King Stephen V (Margaret’s brother), also buried on Margaret Island, from the selection of the Hungarian Countrywide Museum, the discovery of which in 1838 marked the begin 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 very well-regarded, and it has been attainable to reconstruct the most essential phases of its development. Among the amazing outcomes of the the latest research are the fragments of wall paintings, most of which can now be viewed by the general public for the to start with time thanks to the restoration do the job of Eszter Harsányi. Wall paintings have been observed in many areas of the monastery, which include the little area where the staircase foremost from the monastery to the nuns’ choir was positioned in the late Center Ages. The vibrant items of plaster fragments preserving halos and faces hint at the connection of St Margaret and her fellow nuns to pictures: her legend describes the function of Calvary images and other representations in her prayer and contemplation. 

Imitation marble painting from the monastery making

Ignác Roskovics: Saint Margaret (for the Royal Palace)

When the nuns were pressured to flee from the Ottoman assaults in the sixteenth century, the monastery advanced turned abandoned. It was only made use of all through sieges, for case in point as a subject hospital for the duration of the recapture of Buda in 1686. The biggest destruction, nevertheless, was not prompted 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 yard. Like so numerous other monuments of the Hungarian Center Ages, our image of the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island have to be pieced together from compact fragments. The recent point out of study 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 Background Museum has collected the material relics critical for the reconstruction. The exhibition will enable us to recall the determine of Saint Margaret and the monastery the place she expended most of her lifetime and which became the middle of her cult.

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

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

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