S. María la Real de Sijena
Community ID
 
1266
 
Alternate Names
 
Sigena, Sixena
 
Town
 
Villanueva de Sigena
 
Diocese
 
Huesca
 
Region
 
Catalonia
 
Corporate Status
 
Priory
 
Date Founded
 
1187
 
Religious Order
 
Hospitallers
 
Foundation Information
 

Founded by Sancha of Leon-Castile (d. 1208), queen of Aragon, during the reign of her husband Alfonso II of Aragon (r. 1162-1196). In addition to the Rule of Saint Augustine, Sancha had Ricardo, Bishop of Huesca, write a customary for the house in 1188. The customary is known as Sancha's rule.

 
Notable Heads
 

Sancha de Abiego (1190-1192), Beatriz de Cabrera (1193-1196), Maria de Estopañóa (1198-1202), Ozenda de Lizana (1203-1224), Sancha Jimenez de Urrea (1126-1237), Oria Jimenez de Luesia (1238-1252), Urraca de Entenza (1254-1259), Toda Ortiz de Lizana (1259-1266), Elisenda de Querol (1268-1281), Ines de Benavente (1281-1291), Teresa Jimenez de Urrea (1292-1321), infanta Blanca de Aragon y Anjou (1321-1348)

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

Protected by kings, nobles, and popes. It was the most powerful Hospitaller monastery for women in Aragon and Catalonia, arguably in the peninsula. Enjoyed the patronage of kings, although after the thirteenth century Aragonese nobles were the primary benefactors. Sancha, her son Pedro II (r. 1196-1213), and her daughters Dulce and Leonor were all buried at the site.

 
Social Characteristics
 

Daughters of royalty and nobles.

 
Relative Wealth
 

Extremely wealthy

 
Architecture & Archaeology
 

The monastery was built in a single campaign under Sancha of Leon-Castile. The style is Romanesque, although a broad pointed vault is the primary building technique for the entirety of the monastery. The chapter house had Sicilian-Byzantine style frescoes painted in the last quarter of the twelfth century. Blanca of Aragon and Anjou added a prioral palace in the fourteenth century. See Instituto de Estudios Sijenenses “Miguel Servet”/Michael Servetus Institute: A Reference Center for Servetian Studies, "Architecture," "Murals".

 
State Of Medieval Structure
 

The monastery buildings were destroyed in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. The church, refectory, and chapter house were the least damaged. Reconstruction was slow and in November 1985 the remains of the monastery were given to the Nuns of the Order of Bethlehem and the Assumption of the Virgin (b. 1950). The church, refectory, and chapter house have been restored. The fourteenth century palace is presently in use by the nuns as their dormitory. The remainder of the structure is slowly being reconstructed, although it is at a standstill at present. The chapter house frescoes are at the Museu Nacional d'Art Catalan

 
Contributors
 
Eileen McKiernan-Gonzàlez; Marie Kelleher
 
Date Started
 
1187
 
Length
 
1689