Santa Cruz Monastery

Santa Cruz Monastery

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The Santa Cruz Monastery, (English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

: Monastery of the Holy Cross, Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

: Mosteiro de Santa Cruz, best known as Igreja (Church) de Santa Cruz is a National Monument in Coimbra
Coimbra is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. Although it served as the nation's capital during the High Middle Ages, it is better-known for its university, the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the...

, Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. Because the first two kings of Portugal are buried in the church it was granted the status of National Pantheon. Founded in 1131 outside the protecting walls of Coimbra, the Santa Cruz Monastery was the most important monastic house during the early days of the Portuguese monarchy. St. Theotonius
Theotonius was an Augustinian canon and royal advisor. He is noted and famed in Portugal, for being the first Prior of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Coimbra, Portugal...

 founded this community of canons regular
Canons Regular
Canons Regular are members of certain bodies of Canons living in community under the Augustinian Rule , and sharing their property in common...

 and served as their first prior
Prior is an ecclesiastical title, derived from the Latin adjective for 'earlier, first', with several notable uses.-Monastic superiors:A Prior is a monastic superior, usually lower in rank than an Abbot. In the Rule of St...

. The monastery and church were erected between 1132 and 1223. The monastery was granted numerous papal privileges and royal grants, which allowed the accumulation of considerable wealth, at the same time as it consolidated its position on the politico-institutional and cultural scene. Its school, with its vast library, was highly respected in medieval times and was a meeting point for the intellectual and power elites. Its scriptorium was used for the consolidation of royal power by King Afonso Henriques, thus it was not considered strange that he decided to be buried there.

Nothing remains of the early Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 monastery. It is known that it had only one nave and a high tower in the façade, as typical of the Augustinian-Romanesque constructions, but none of those elements subsisted. In the first half of the 16th century, the Monastery was completely renovated by King Manuel's
Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I , the Fortunate , 14th king of Portugal and the Algarves was the son of Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu, , by his wife, Infanta Beatrice of Portugal...

 order, this monarch having assumed the Monastery tutelage.

The whole monastic complex, the church and the tombs of King Afonso Henriques and of his successor, King Sancho I
Sancho I of Portugal
Sancho I , nicknamed the Populator , second monarch of Portugal, was born on 11 November 1154 in Coimbra and died on 26 March 1212 in the same city. He was the second but only surviving legitimate son and fourth child of Afonso I of Portugal by his wife, Maud of Savoy. Sancho succeeded his father...

, were rearranged and transferred to the main-chapel in 1530, where they still lie in a sculptural work by Nicolau Chanterene
Nicolau Chanterene
Nicolau Chanterene was a French sculptor and architect who worked mainly in Portugal and Spain....

. The architect Diogo Boitac was responsible for the layout of the Manueline church and the Chapterhouse
For the religious buildings, see Chapter houseChapterhouse are a British shoegazing band originally of the early 1990s, from Reading, Berkshire, England. Formed in 1987 by Andrew Sherriff and Stephen Patman, the band began performing alongside Spacemen 3...

 with its basket-handled and ribbed ceilings. Marco Pires gave continuity to the work, with the completion of the church, the Capela de São Miguel (St. Michael's Chapel) and the Claustro do Silêncio (Cloister of Silence). The main portal, built between 1522 and 1525 under Chanterene, is the most emblematic piece of the whole monastic ensemble, harmonising the artistic elements of the Manueline with other features from Renaissance inspiration.

Through the whole 16th century, worked at Santa Cruz de Coimbra the most respected architects, sculptors and painters, such as Diogo de Castilho, Machim and Jean of Rouen, Cristóvão de Figueiredo
Cristóvão de Figueiredo
Cristovão de Figueiredo was a Portuguese Renaissance painter.Like many other important painters of the time, Cristovão de Figueiredo was a pupil of Master Jorge Afonso, in Lisbon, in the early 16th century...

 and Vasco Fernandes
Vasco Fernandes
Vasco Fernandes , better known as Grão Vasco, was one of the main Portuguese Renaissance painters.Vasco Fernandes was probably born in Viseu, in Northern Portugal, where he began his career in the team of painters executing the main altarpiece of Viseu Cathedral . Between 1506 and 1511 he painted...

 besides the already mentioned Chanterene, Boytac and Diogo Pires the Younger. The sacristy dates back to the 17th century and keeps some notable 16th century canvases.

Saint Anthony of Lisbon was a member of the community of canons regular, and after his ordination, he was placed in charge of hospitality for the monastery. It was in this capacity that he welcomed the remains of the Franciscan protomartyrs, whose remains were being transported back to Assisi
- Churches :* The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi is a World Heritage Site. The Franciscan monastery, il Sacro Convento, and the lower and upper church of St Francis were begun immediately after his canonization in 1228, and completed in 1253...

, after their deaths in Morroco. This led to his decision to leave the security and ease of the life of a canon for that of the newly founded Franciscans.