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

A new non permanent 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 often captured the creativeness of persons interested in historical past. The exhibition provides site visitors a choice of artifacts never ever before exhibited anywhere. The celebration for the exhibition is the 750th anniversary of Margaret’s death in 2020, and the point that in the last two a long time our know-how of the spiritual establishment that was the house of the younger princess of the Árpád dynasty has enhanced substantially. This is largely many thanks to the exploration of Eszter Kovács, who passed away in 2018 and who experienced carried out quite a few tiny-scale excavations in the location of the Dominican monastery. This is how the fragments of wall paintings, probably relationship from the 14th and 15th hundreds of years, ended up observed, which are on show 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 brought up as a youngster in the Dominican monastery in Veszprém, which had been launched soon right before, and at the age of 10, she was transferred to the monastery on Margaret Island, which her parents had designed. During her canonization approach, the testimonies of her contemporaries, recorded in 1276, convey to of her focused, sacrificial, and self-sacrificing lifestyle, her never-ending religion in Christ, and the miracles that took put in her lifestyle and at her tomb. Margaret’s role 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 guidance, Margaret’s canonization was not obtained in the Center Ages. It was her brother, Stephen V, who was the to start with to attempt this: but neither he, nor Ladislas IV, nor their successors from the Property of Anjou had been productive. We you should not know accurately when she was elevated to the Blessed, but there are many documents of this from the 15th century and we also know of quite a few medieval depictions of Margaret. Her cult in Hungary produced soon soon after her demise: she was buried in entrance of the key sanctuary of the Dominican church, and afterwards an ornate white marble sarcophagus was created for her overall body, with reliefs depicting her miraculous deeds. Primarily based on her oldest legend and the canonization information, additional versions of the legend were penned, and a Hungarian-language model was developed at the conclude of the Center Ages. The veneration of St Margaret has been pretty much unbroken about the generations. Her relics and bones were being taken to Pozsony (Bratislava) by the nuns in the 16th century to escape the Ottoman menace. Most of the bones had been dropped in the 18th century, but potentially 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 screen 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 start off of systematic excavations of the monastery ruins.

Funerary crown of King Stephen V (Hungarian National Museum)

Thanks to the excavations, the extent of the previous monastery and its church is well-regarded, and it has been possible to reconstruct the most important phases of its design. Among the stunning success of the the latest analysis are the fragments of wall paintings, most of which can now be seen by the general public for the initially time many thanks to the restoration get the job done of Eszter Harsányi. Wall paintings have been observed in several pieces of the monastery, including the tiny room exactly where the staircase foremost from the monastery to the nuns’ choir was situated in the late Middle Ages. The colourful pieces of plaster fragments preserving halos and faces trace at the partnership of St Margaret and her fellow nuns to photos: her legend describes the part of Calvary pictures 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 were being pressured to flee from the Ottoman attacks in the sixteenth century, the monastery elaborate became abandoned. It was only used all through sieges, for illustration as a area clinic through the recapture of Buda in 1686. The greatest destruction, having said that, was not prompted 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 back garden. Like so many other monuments of the Hungarian Center Ages, our impression of the Dominican monastery on Margaret Island ought to be pieced with each other from modest fragments. The current condition of exploration on Saint Margaret and her cult was introduced at a conference structured jointly by the Apostolic Congregation of the Dominican Sisters, the Károli Gáspár Reformed University, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, even though the Budapest Background Museum has collected the materials relics important for the reconstruction. The exhibition will allow us to remember the figure of Saint Margaret and the monastery where by she expended 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 watch until finally March 19, 2023.

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