Início » Museu Municipal – English translation
This room, next to the entrance to the Homem Familly Palace, was a space for the reception and processing of cereals that were milled into flour to produce the always indispensable daily bread.
The primitive typology of the manual millstones in granite, that were preserved on the floor of this compartment, refers to an ancestral tradition that dates back to the Neolithic, and it is possible that this space was reused in the current palace, built in the 1700s, taking advantage of a previously existing architectural structure in this very place, as attested by the large late-medieval discharge arch embedded in the back wall, under which traces of what may have been a primitive pavement are also preserved (visible in the adjoining Laje do Ouro necropolis room).
Anta de Aldeia da Mata or ‘of Tapadão’ (Aldeia da Mata, Crato)
Large dolmen located near Aldeia da Mata, in the municipality of Crato, visible on the left of the road that leads to the village.
The granite monument is in reasonable condition, having lost part of one of the seven pillars of the chamber, which was broken at half height, certainly to facilitate the access to the interior. The chamber has an imposing height of 3.80 m and 4 m in diameter. It also has an extensive corridor with about 11 m in length, provided with the respective orthostats (or vertical supports, the covers have disappeared). A large sub-circular slab placed vertically, supported on the orthostats of the chamber and on the last ones of the corridor (in ‘guillotine’), closes the chamber on the east side, leaving a small rectangular entrance free below it.
The burial mound or ‘tumulus’ is still perceptible, although it has been heavily eroded by time and by men, and its size is noteworthy, with a diameter of about 30 m.
From the point of view of architectural typology, we find ourselves in face of a monument with a remarkable camera stonework, with the well chiselled supports arranged in a wedge shape to seal the interior space.
Note the verticality and dimension of the headstone, clearly plumb and with a remarkable monumentality, as well as the table stone on top of it, which also has a large ‘fossete’ [small pit with a ritual purpose] excavated at its top, with about 13 cm in diameter.
The monument’s plan, as well as its elevation, give the idea that a template – or model – was used for its planning, such is its geometric rigor. In fact, the chamber has a very precise polygonal shape, with the struts next to the entrance symmetrically angled.
It should also be noted that this monument is located next to a granite inselberg – or outcrop. In this case, the monumentalizing of ‘nature’, considering the proximity of the outcrop, seems to make sense. In the immediate vicinity can be found the remains of another small dolmen, that would function as its ‘satellite’.
Dr. Agostinho Farinha Isidoro
(Aldeia da Mata [Crato], 09/10/1919 –Matosinhos, 17/02/2017)
Born in Aldeia da Mata, Dr. Agostinho Farinha Isidoro dedicated a good part of his life as a researcher to the tasks of archaeology in the Municipality of Crato, the council where he was born.
A humble life – he was a sheep shepherd, shop clerk – did not prevent him from continuing his studies, dedicating himself to the expansion of his knowledge, which would give him the profile of a scientist, a man of faith and a humanist, completing three higher courses, in Theology, Biological Sciences and Medicine, which he practiced in the city of Matosinhos. He was also a pastor of the Baptist Church of Santo Tirso.
In the field of anthropology – as a naturalist at the Instituto de Antropologia [Anthropology Institute] Dr.Mendes Correia from the University of Sciences of Porto, a scholarship holder of the Instituto de Alta Cultura [High Culture Institute] and of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation – numerous works stand out, among the more than 40 that he published, of which his connection to the Municipality of Crato, through the systematic study of megalithic culture.
It is this aspect of his work that is honored here, showing the architectural and archaeological wealth of the dolmens of Crato and the valuable assets obtained in theexcavations that he carried out, currently under custody of the Science Museum of the Faculty of Sciences of Porto, which it will now show to the public in partnership with the Municipal Museum of Crato on a regular and rotating basis.
Megalithism (c. 3500 BC)
The municipality of Crato has more than 40 dolmens inventoried. They are the oldest manifestations of human presence in the region, with about 5000 to 6000 years old.
Due to the density of these vestiges and what the exhumed remains reveal, it is believed that this entire region, in the neo-Eneolithic period, was a place of establishment or passage of peoples dedicated to pastoralism and incipient agricultural practices.
These are burial chambers where the ancestors were certainly venerated and the cycles of nature were observed, so important to ensure the cohesion of the communities, the fertility of the fields and the fecundity of the herds.
They provide an account of a spiritual life and, although the rituals adopted are not rigorously known, the objects that accompanied the dead prove the belief in an afterlife in the Beyond and of the possible communication with divine entities, in connection with the astral symbolism.
The megalithism in this region is characterized by the presence of large burial mound or tumulus, covering the chambers, almost always subcircular, with large pillars and a stone lid, being accessed through a corridor.
Today, the dolmens that can be seen in the landscape are just the bare bones of these structures, that were inscribed in a process of monumentalizing and appropriation of the territory by the community.
0 1 m 2 m
Dolmen 1 of Tapadão (according to. Agostinho Farinha Isidoro)
Cut in perspective of a standard dolmen
Dolmen of Penedos de S. Miguel [Boulders of St. Michael]
(Aldeia da Mata)
4th millennium BC
Dolmen of Penedos de S. Miguel was excavated by a team led by Prof. Victor S. Gonçalves, in partnership with the Centre d’Anthropologie des Sociétés Rurales (CNRS, Toulouse) between 1981 and 1983.
It is a dolmen with an extensive corridor and a large chamber. The monument has a long diachrony: built in the Neolithic, it was reused during the Chalcolithic and occupied until the Middle Ages as a temporary shelter.
The monument has the singularity of having the demarcation of a sacred space, at the beginning of the second tier of the corridor, marked by two small menhirs, side by side, protected by a small stone wall.
Bone remains, artifacts in flint, sandstone, shale, and polished stone remain from the original occupation, as well as ceramic vessels.
Among the collection, three remarkable examples of stoneware votive plates, on display, stand out due their quality and rarity.
Chalcolithic / Bronze Age (c. 2500-1800 BC)
In the Chalcolithic transition period (c. 2500 BC), and probably also in the following Bronze Age (c. 1800 BC), the presence of communities with an eventually more hierarchical social organization and a more solid territorial presence, in what concerns the ‘domestication’ of the landscape, is believed to be a verifiable fact.
The granite stele refers to the human figure – an ancestor? – distinguishing the neck and eyes, as well as the nose. The concentric curves suggest that it is the depiction of a necklace or insignia. The latticework on the side surfaces suggests, in turn, hair or a headdress, if not clothing with patterned ornamentation.
Originally, the piece, which is fractured at the base, must have been about 1.50 m tall and erected in the ground like a menhir.
Necropolis of the Roman villa of Laje do Ouro (Aldeia da Mata) (1st-4th centuries AD)
The necropolis of Laje do Ouro was used as a burial ground for a nearby Roman farm, located about 100 meters away.
It is believed that it was a small farm that was later much expanded, becoming a large agricultural villa. Its period of activity began in the 1st century AD, with a peak around the 3rd-4th centuries AD. C. It maintained a constant human presence in the post-Roman period.
The archaeological excavations carried out focused on 135 graves. 45 graves found were of incineration, and 90 of inhumation, clearly showcasing the different ritual burial practices.
The differences between the various types of tombs and their location in relation to the whole burial ground plainly show that the necropolis was used for a relatively long time, following the cycles of rural exploitation.
The oldest burials, in wooden coffins, in tomb pits with N.‑S. orientation, are in the central area, whereas the most recent are located on the periphery of the excavated area, already oriented E.-W., with variations that reflect the different burial periods.
The findings are richer in the older burials, with mainly common ceramics, fine ceramics (Terra Sigillata Hispânica, Late and Clear, 3rd-4th centuries), glasses and lucernes; the offerings gradually became scarcer as the necropolis was used.
The tombs of the 3rd-4th centuries are the better structured, with tiled walls in conjunction with niches for the deposition of offerings, covered by slabs with holes for libations and the bottom covered with lateres. Some are located in a small quadrangular enclosure delimited by walls. Incineration burials were carried out in a pit with a ceramic or slab cover.
Maximus’ Roman Funerary Stele
Necropolis of the Roman villa of Laje do Ouro (Aldeia da Mata)
Camira’s Roman Funerary Stele
Necropolis of the Roman villa of Laje do Ouro (Aldeia da Mata)
The cult of the dead is the most constant archetype for preserving the memory of the deceased. For its celebration, the Romans organized annual festivities in honour of their disappeared ancestors, cemeteries were visited, a common meal was made and food and drink were offered to the dead, in plates and bowls that were placed next to the graves. The tombs were sacred places and were marked so that passers-by would respect the memory of the dead. Sometimes only a simple roof tile was placed, half-buried at the head of the tomb; those who had possessions had a stele or altar made, in marble or granite, on which the name of the deceased was engraved, such as those in the necropolis of the Roman villa of Laje do Ouro, excavated by Helena Frade and José Carlos Caetano in 1982 and 1983.
DOQVIR[I] [F(ilius)?] AN(n)
NORVM . X[…]
H(ic) . S(itus) […]
T(ibi) . T(erra) . L(evis)
Translation: Here lies Maximus,
Doquiro’s son, aged …
May the soil
be light on you
F (ilia) . AN (norum) . XX (viginti)
H(ic) . S(ita) IIST . S(it)
Translation: Here lies Camira, daughter
of Maximus, twenty years old. May the soil
be light on you
Romanization I: the Roman occupation
In spite of the archaeological sites already known, the extent of Romanization in the municipality of Crato remains to be established.
Father Luís Cardoso mentions, in 1747, that ‘at a distance of a quarter of a league [from Crato] there are many traces of foundations, carved stones, tomb fields, and raised towers, which seem to have been a village…’. He was referring, of course, to the villa of Granja.
The Roman inscription revealed by Domingos Pinho Brandão was found ‘in a farm in Crato, in the Roman area located next to the train station, where pavements with Roman mosaics can still be found’. Due to its location, it must derive from the villa of Granja, although some archaeologists plave it at the Roman villa of Laje do Ouro, in the parish of Aldeia da Mata.
Another inscription whose trace has been lost was uncovered by Friar Lucas de Santa
Catharina, in 1734, indicating the existence of a village, Vicus Camalocensis, near the place of Chocanal:
‘At its boundaries [of Crato] there is a piece of countryside, free and open, called the Xocanal, that a copious stream, which took the name of the site, renders pleasant. On a part of it a medium-sized hillock can be seen, which, due to the ruins, which crown and surround it, is assumed to have served as a space for some majestic building. In this hill six, or seven years ago, a stone of some grandeur was discovered (of which a draft will follow) that was taken from a large Oural [a place where gold – ouro in Portuguese – was found] (which is called the Monastery, given the tradition that one existed there) in which the Farmers of that district placed it, amongst others… This stone was taken from here to Machoquinho, deciding that in the past there would have existed on the hill some Temple consecrated to Jupiter, and there would have been there some Gentile Settlement; because for a space of half a league successive ruins were found, and several dolmens, or stone gates, and these are so large, and unmeasured, that it seems incredible that forces, or human industries, carried them there.’ .’ (Fr. Lucas de Santa Catharina, 1734)
Engraving: inscription referring to Vicus Camalocensis
(Fr. Lucas de Santa Catharina, 1734)
Romanization II: roads, paths, and bridges
It is intuited that the Roman occupation was significant. Proof of this are the secondary Roman roads or the paths that crossed the county and the bridges that served the crossings of rivers and streams – reminiscent of a Roman past – or built, repaired and modified in the medieval period, as is the case of the Ponte da Ribeira do Chocanal [Bridge of the Stream of Chocanal] and of Ponte Velha do Prado [Old Bridge of Prado], a pedestrian bridge over the Ribeira de Seda [Stream of Seda].
The research carried out suggest the existence of paths of pre-Roman and Roman origin, connecting Monte da Pedra to Vale do Peso and Aldeia da Mata (villa of Laje do Ouro) through the ‘Caminho do Chamiço’ [the path of Chamiço], as other paths, leading to the south of present-day Crato across the Chocanal stream, presumably towards the vicus Camalocensis and from there to the villa of Granja.
Medieval paths, even if of earlier origin, connected practically in straight line, Abelterium (Alter do Chão) near Crato, and from here to Flor da Rosa; to N. they continued to Alpalhão passing through Vale do Peso.
In the E.-O. direction there should have been ‘diverticula’ (or ‘variants’, as we say today) in the direction of Fortios, associated to a network of well-known side roads, that still exist today and, some of them already tarred (paths to Aguilhão, Fonte do Boneco,
Location of the Bridge of the Stream of Chocanal (source: IPPAR)
Location of the Old Bridge of Prado (source: IPPAR)
Roman Villa of Granja (Crato e Mártires)
Heading south from Crato, less than 500 m. from the town’s railway station, Roman remains can still be seen today at the site of Granja. The archaeological site was mentioned for the first time in 1747 in the Geographical Dictionary of Fr. Cardoso and quoted by Pinho Leal a hundred years later.
The archaeological site was ‘rediscovered’ in 1936, and it was surveyed by Manuel Heleno, that published a small article in O Arqueólogo Português in 1953.
It is an area of about 15,000 square meters, located on the side of a hill, where loose Roman material (bricks, tegulae, imbrices) and five geometric mosaics in poor condition, dating from the 3rd century AD, were found.
In the area of the archaeological site, nowadays covered with soil, there is a simple rural building displaying in its walls several lithic and ceramic elements from Roman constructions that were part of the structure of a large agricultural ‘villa’.
An impressive monolithic column, measuring 2.34 m in height and approximately 0.90 m in diameter, with slight entasis, is one of the architectural elements recovered in the surveys.
Among the remains exhumed in a recent emergency dig, there are some ceramic lamps (lucernes), various ornaments and excellent common ceramics.
Homem Familly Palace (c. 1750)
The Museum is currently located in the former Rua do Arco [Arch street], number 3, currently Rua dos Cavaleiros da Ordem Soberana e Militar de Malta [Knights of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta], an 18th century baroque manor house, with a scenographic frontispiece design of significant decorative value. This house was ultimately, before its conversion into a Museum, the home of the Homem family, name for which it became known.
The facade is organized in 3 levels. The lower one corresponds to the ground floor and is endowed with a monumental portal sided by two columns with plain shafts sporting Ionic capitals over a panelled background, flanked by scalloped-frame windows (two on each side of the central axis).
The intermediate level corresponds to the first and noble floor, with an ornate bay window, including a developed balcony in the centre, flanked by Ionic pilasters and trapezoidal lintels. On both sides there are three other bay windows, topped by alternating triangular and curved pediments. The railings on the balconies are in wrought iron, also from the 18th century. All the stonework is in local yellow granite, and the masonry walls are plastered and whitewashed.
The last level corresponds to the attic, with an elliptical oculus between pilasters in the centre, also topped and partially framed by a triangular pediment.
On the right side, a segment of the late-Baroque façade is still preserved. Probably added at a later stage of the 18th century, with a large, framed window, it corresponds to a part of the building which was in ruins before the restoration works to transform the Palace into a Museum. All of the central part of the Palace seems to have been constructed over previous gothic foundations, still apparent in some surviving archaeological remains on the ground floor.
It is plausible that part of the manor used the side wall of the Palace (palatium) of the Knights Hospitallers, later of Malta, whose layout is unknown today (still undergoing research) but that extended in front of the adjacent main square of the village.
The interior consists of several small footage areas, with good finishing details, but betraying a strong regional character. According to the artistic components found, the construction must date from around 1750.
Charter of Crato granted by the Prior of the Hospital D. Mendo Gonçalves on December 8, 1232
‘In nomine sanctee et individue trinitatis patris et filis et spírítus sancti. Amen. Ego dom melendo gundisaui prior de portugal de la ordim do espital una cum conuentu nostro uolumus populare ocrate. Damus uobis populatoríbus tom presentibus quam futuris foros et costumes de nisa: ut duas partes dos caualeros uadant in fossado, et tercía pars remaneat in cuiuitate: et una uice faciant fossadum in anno: Et qui non fuerít ad fossadum pectet pró foro v solidos pro fossadeyra. (etc…)’
‘In the name of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. I, Dom Mendo Gonçalves, Prior of Portugal of the Order of the Hospital, together with our convent, want to populate Crato. We give to you, settlers, both present and future, the rules and customs of Nisa: that two parts of the knights go to the villainage and the third part stay in the castle [cividade = village] and make the service of villainage once a year. And the one that doesn’t, shall pay for tax 5 sous for the villeinage (etc….)’
(In Alexandre Herculano, Portugaliae Monumenta Historica, Leges et consuetudines, vol. I Facs. IV, 1856; reading and translation by M. Inácio Pestana)
The charter of Crato adopted the formula of charters of the Ávila-Évora type, which were also granted to Nisa and Alter do Chão.
Middle Ages: Imagery and Devotion
In the Hospitaller Commanderies, the veneration of Saint Mary was a factor of cohesion. The Mother of God thus constituted one of the nuclei of the devotion of the warrior-monks, around which the devotional life and calendar were organized.
Saint Mary or Our Lady would be, for the most part, and because of the patronage of the great monastery – the seat and head of the Order – one of the most important holy figures of the Knights Hospitallers, which resulted in a remarkable imagery production of the Virgin that highlights the specific invocation of the patroness of Flor da Rosa as Nossa Senhora das Neves [Our Lady of the Snows].
But the museum has several images of Our Lady, albeit of unknown origin. Images like these, which arouse a great spiritual attachment, serve as a palliative and mediator between the believers and divinity, relating themselves to Mary as mother: of Christ, first of all, but symbolically of all Humanity. The Child on the Mother’s lap often bears a flower, and the Virgin a pomegranate, symbol of the ecumenism of Christianity, and of the Church itself.
On the other hand, the magnificent image of Nossa Senhora da Rosa [Our Lady of the Rose], a French work, probably of Norman origin, polychrome and of great erudition, constitutes one of the most significant artistic works that survived in Crato, where it was part of the imagery of the mother Church, and is currently on deposit at the parish church of Flor da Rosa.
The image of Santo André [Saint Andrew], comes from the mother church of Crato but it is almost certainly original from the old chapel of Santo André, at the boundaries of the village. It is a polychrome stone piece dating from the fifteenth century, with the usual attributes of martyrdom of the saint – the ‘St. Andrew’s cross’, or ‘saltire’, where he was crucified. One of the twelve apostles, brother of Peter, Andrew is the advocate of the wronged and aggrieved.
A magnificent St. Bartholomew – patron saint of the stutterers – is now part of the Misericórdia [Holy House of Mercy] collection from Crato, in deposit at the Museum. It is most likely an English import, as it appears to have been carved in alabaster from Nottingham, still showing some traces of the original polychromy, and dating from the end of the 14th century. He is represented with the knife with which he was martyred – by flaying – and is therefore associated with ‘topical’ protection from skin diseases, but also with the Christianization of pagan places (the ‘change of skin’ would symbolize just that). He therefore submits at his feet a chained demon.
The Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, or Hospitallers, later Order of Malta
The Order of the Hospital was created in Jerusalem, at the Hospital of St. John the Baptist (Domus Hospitalis Sancti Iohannis Hierolymitani), annexed to the house of assistance to pilgrims founded by merchants from Amalfi, in 1048. With the arrival of the Crusaders in 1099 and the subsequent conquest of the Holy City, the assistance role took on an increasing importance in the congregation.
In 1113, Pope Paschal II granted it its own rule, establishing itself as the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, expanding across Syria and all over Europe.
When Gerald de Martigues – its founder – died in 1119, the Frenchman Raymond du Puy replaced him as ‘institutor’ of the Order. From 1130, however, in addition to the assistance component, it also embodies the status of a military order in order to defend the Holy Land.
After the fall of the Holy City in 1187, the seat of the Order was transferred to St. John of Acre, where it would remain until 1291, when the Muslim advance forced the abandonment of the stronghold.
Meanwhile, the Order’s fortresses and hospitals offered the most advanced panorama of 12th and 13th century military architecture, notably the Crac (or Krak) des Chevaliers (‘Qalʿat al-Ḥiṣn’) near Homs.
Retreating to Cyprus (Limassol) and then to the island of Rhodes, which they conquered in 1308, the Hospitallers will set up an advanced stronghold of Christian resistance to the onslaught of the Mohammedans from Egypt and Syria, or the Turkish Ottomans.
In 1522, Rhodes also fell, victim of Turkish siege, and the knights were forced to flee to Italy (Viterbo, Nizza) and, finally, to Malta, which Emperor Charles the 5th granted them under a feudatory regime, in 1530, giving rise to the name by which they will be known from then on, as Order of Malta.
Middle Ages: lapidary and archaeological remains of Crato and Flor da Rosa
Among the lapidary collections of Crato and Flor da Rosa there are notable elements of unfinished constructions, or elements transferred and dismantled from medieval or late medieval buildings.
In addition to the [property] marks or ‘marras’ and the tomb headstones, there is also a lintel of a disappeared fountain in the vicinity of the monastery of Flor da Rosa. Today, only two of these fountains remain, the Fonte do Mosteiro [Fountain of the Monastery], dated 1443 – date inscribed in Gothic script on the lintel, during the priory of D. Henrique de Castro and added to the coat of arms of the Almeida familly, during the priory of D. Diogo de Almeida (1492‑1506) – and the Alamo Fountain. The Fonte Pequena [Little Fountain] was built close to the Fonte do Mosteiro, but it was dismantled at an uncertain date. Its lintel survived, displaying an inscription in Gothic cursive difficult to read.
Two other remarkable pieces are the two large Gothic capitals. They may have come from the old Chapel of S. Bento [St. Benedict] (Flor da Rosa), demolished at the end of the 19th century. They were found as constructive material (spolia) in village dwellings. But it is also possible that these two capitals were carved but eventually never used in the construction work of the monastery, in one of its first construction phases, or that they were the result of program hesitations, ending up as leftover material from the building site.
Other pieces recovered in the monastery are two Manueline column bases, two vault medallions (from around. 1530), a door lintel with a late Gothic frame (fragment) and a large impost with vegetable inspired ornamentation.
The chamfered columns formed the substructure of the porches of the front yard of the Monastery, where the annual fair was held.
The ceramics were collected in emergency archaeological excavations carried out in the Crato 18th century City Council building: they are common medieval and late-medieval ceramics, attesting to the Gothic antecedents of the pre-existing buildings in that constructive current, later monumentalized with the building of emblazoned manor houses.
The Cross of the Order of Malta or Cross ‘of the Eight Beatitudes’
The defining symbol of the Order of St. John of the Hospital of Jerusalem, or of Malta, is the Eight-Pointed Cross, which, according to the legend, represents the knight’s eight duties: love, repentance, faith, humility, mercy, endurance, sincerity and truth. It is also known as the Cross of the Eight Beatitudes.
Initially (12th century), the Order of the Hospital used a simple cross, with straight arms, which was followed by the cross Pattée or ‘Patty’. But the differentiation between the original cross, used by other orders and congregations or as signs of consecration in churches, gave way to the personalized version of the Eight-Pointed Cross, or Maltese cross.
The ‘eight beatitudes (beatitudes, benedictiones, or blessedness), indicated by the vertices of the cross, refer to Jesus in his Sermon on the Mountain, as narrated in the Gospel of St. Matthew – and reflected in the Gospel of St. Luke (Lk 6, 20-26).
Gospel according to St. Matthew (Mt. 5,1-10; Sermon on the Mountain: Mt 1-29):
‘1 – When Jesus saw the crowd, he went up a mountain. After he had sat down, the disciples approached him.
2 – Then he spoke and began to teach them, saying:
3 – Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
4 – Happy are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 – Happy are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
6 – Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will be satisfied.
7- Happy are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.
8 – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 – Happy are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 – Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
The habits of the Knights and Friars of the Order of the Hospital began to bear the Maltese Cross since the 13th century. Commanderies and Hospitaller possessions often display the engraved symbol.
In the Priory of Crato, it is also on the signs of ownership, the [property] marks or ‘marras’, which delimited the lands belonging to the Order.
Some stone tombs of the Order’s dignitaries – although not all – used the Eight-Pointed Cross engraved on the stone disk.
Today, in addition to being still in use by the Order, it is the national symbol of the Republic of Malta, present on the respective flag. It is also present in Crato’s coat of arms.
The private chapel of Palácio Homem has an uncommonly elaborate decorative program, albeit of regional manufacture.
The back wall is dominated by a marble altarpiece displaying, at the top, the face of a winged angel in the centre, with two cherubs in the lower sides, avoiding the most common formula of the time, in Portugal – the gilded wooden carved altar – a fact that manifests a significant investment on the part of the commissioners.
The large baroque canvas at the centre shows the dedication of the chapel to Nossa Senhora da Consolação de Utrera [Our Lady of Consolation of Utrera].
The iconography is typical of this Virgin, venerated in the Sanctuary of Utrera, a village on the outskirts of Seville. Protector of navigators, she is presented crowned, dressed in a blue conical cape and a pink tunic, with the Baby Jesus, also crowned, on her left arm, and a hull of a boat on her right hand. She is accompanied, at her feet, by the kneeling depictions of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis from Paula. The canvas itself contains the labels N.S DA CONCOLAC. DE UTREIRA, S.F. IN ACIS and S.F. DE PAULA.
The ceiling, in barrel vault, is entirely painted with brutesque rocaille vegetation with angels and putti.
The tile panels on the walls display the symbols of the litanies of the Virgin and their correspondents in the Lauds of the 3rd Sunday of Lent: the Sun, the Moon, the Star (‘Stella Matutina’) and the Palm of Holiness:
‘Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord / praise and exalt Him for ever and ever. (…)/sun and moon, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him for ever and ever. Stars of heaven, bless the Lord, praise him and extol Him for ever and ever. (…)’
[Excerpt from the Song of the Three Young Men (Ps 136; 148); (Dan 3,57-88)]
Two images of the Virgin and Child from the stone sculpture exhibition at the monastery of Santa Maria da Flor da Rosa
The two limestone polychrome images from the National Museum of Ancient Art (MNAA), a Senhora da Rosa [Our Lady of the Rose] and a Senhora da Romã [Our Lady of the Pomegranate], dating from the late 15th to the mid-16th century, are part of Ernesto Vilhena’s large collection of imagery, with almost 1500 pieces in total, which include some of the best sacred statuary from the national workshops of masters such as João Afonso, Diogo Pires or João de Ruão, especially from the period from the 14th to the 16th centuries, on display in the MNAA’s permanent exhibition, in various locations and with several museographic options, since 1980/1981.
Incorporated into the collections of the Portuguese State in 1969, and the subject of numerous temporary exhibitions and deposits in alternative exhibition locations, at the end of the first decade of this century, this portion of the Vilhena collection was opened to the public in the rooms accessible through the cloister of the monastery in 2008, in an exhibition that displays a significant number of devotional images of the Virgin from the aforementioned collection, from the 15th and 16th centuries, deposited here by the MNAA and of which the two pieces on display in this room are a sample and an incentive for a more detailed visit in the monastery of Flor da Rosa.
The Great Hall is the most important part of the residential section of the palace.
It is accessed through a door with marble trim, with polychrome accents.
It has two front windows of the same design, with a curved lintel, opening onto balcony bay windows.
The coffered ceiling is decorated with rocaille-style stucco framing work, with four medallions on the sides and a medallion in the centre.
The iconographic program, inspired by engravings, follows the fashion of the time, presenting allegorical incarnations, with landscapes in the background, of the four continents known at the time: ‘Azia’ [Asia], ‘Europe’, ‘América’, ‘Africa’. The medallion at the centre represents the ‘Good Shepherd’.
It is a provincial work, certainly contemporary of the ceilings of the Casa da Misericórdia [Holy House of Mercy] of Crato, the latter with religious themes.
Pedro Nunes Tinoco
This book Has all the Plans And profiles of the Churches And Towns of the Priory of Crato, 1620‑1621
Pen drawings, watercolours, 28 fls + Manuscript
Seminário das Missões da Sociedade Missionária da Boa Nova [Seminary of the Missions of the Missionary Society of the Good News]
In‑folio (44 cm x 33 cm) from  pp. +  text. Bound
Pedro Nunes Tinoco (active 1604‑1640) was the architect of the Priory of Crato, but also author of the plans of the church of Santa Clara [Saint Claire] of Lisbon (1613); of the church of the Monastery of Santa Marta [Saint Martha] of Lisbon (1616‑1617); of the Church of the Salvador [Saviour] in Lisbon (1616‑1617); and of the sacristy of the church of Santa Cruz [Holy Cross] of Coimbra (1622); he was also appointed architect for the construction works at the church of the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora [Saint Vincent off the Walls], Lisbon, in 1624, and mentor of other smaller architectural interventions. He proceeded, as early as 1615, to visit the buildings located in the Priory’s domains, drawing them, and taking note of the needs for repairs that he identified in the codex on display (quoted above), entitled ‘This book Has all the Plans (...)’, completed in 1620, to which he added in 1621 a final handwritten report.
The codex, measuring 44 × 33 cm, comprises 28 sheets of watercoloured pen drawings, with ‘cavalier oblique projection’ and plans of temples, castles and villages in the domains of the Order of Malta (Crato, Aldeia da Mata, Amieira, Belver, Carvoeira, Nesperal, Cernache de Bonjardim, Satão, Gavião, Pedrógão Pequeno, Soeirinho, Vale do Peso, Gafete, Chamiço and Flor da Rosa).
The plans convey a certain concern for rigour. The ‘cavalier oblique projection’, on the other hand, display the need to synthesize in a single drawing different plans – although without often neglecting minute details – using traditional representation techniques, that do not necessarily imply the lack of mastery of modern drawing skills. Some obvious inaccuracies lead us to think that its finishing was carried out some time after collecting the preparatory sketches, and already in the architect’s den (with a significant lapse of five years between the start of the visits and the date for the completion of the drawings).
The codex belonged to the library of the Count of Castelo Melhor. It was after bought by José Maria Nepumoceno, a well-known bibliophile, that sold it – through an auction sale – to the Count of Areal. From here, again in auction (1924) and by bidding by Joshua Benoliel, it was purchased by the Maggs Brothers bookstore, in London. At a later stage, Mr. Carlos Simões managed to interest Doctor Abílio Marçal, director of the now extinct Institute of Colonial Missions located in Cernache de Bonjardim, in its acquisition, that came through, after which the codex became part of the of the library of the Religious Seminary of the Overseas Missions, in the same village (now part of the Missionary Society of the Good News), in the custody of which it is still today, but whose kind concession allows its exhibition to the public in our Museum.
Medieval fair columns
Found in Flor da Rosa
The columns with an octagonal profile shaft, characteristic of 14th century Gothic architecture, resulting from the bevelling of the four angles of a column of square contour, were part of the ‘Alpendres Aonde se faz a feira [Porches Where the fair is held]’, erected in the churchyard of the Flor da Rosa monastery, today totally gone but that Pedro Nunes Tinoco, on his visit to the architectural complex, at the beginning of the 17th century, would still have seen, since he integrated them in the drawing – the ‘cavalier oblique projection’ – of the 1620-1621 codex that can be seen in this room.
15th or 16th century
From Fonte Pequena (disappeared)
Found in Flor da Rosa
The cyma or entablement of the demolished Fonte Pequena [Little Fountain], erected between the Fonte do Mosteiro [Fountain of the Monastery] and the Fonte do Álamo [Alamo Fountain] dismantled at an undefined date, partially survives only thanks to the granite lintel with a long inscription in Gothic cursive in the centre, similar to the one in the more monumental Fonte do Mosteiro, with the coat of arms of the Almeidas, in an manifest reference to the patronage of Prior D. Diogo de Almeida, who died in 1508 and whose tomb is preserved – in fragments due to the collapse of the church’s apse in 1897 – in the monastery’s sacristy, in Flor da Rosa.
Late Medieval and Renaissance Imagery
The images of saints were part of a distinct veneration, often related to the devotional calendars usually adopted by religious orders, and by parishes or confraternities.
The invocation of Christian martyrs gave way to prayers often aimed at helping bring spiritual and material aid, or the healing of diseases, according to the history – the hagiology – of each of the saints.
A naive but evocative S. Sebastião [Saint Sebastian] (15th century), certainly coming from the Chapel of S. Sebastião of Crato and which, after the chapel’s ruin, was deposited in the mother church, is a sign of this type of veneration: Saint Sebastian was a ‘curative’ saint – like so many others, linked to medieval ‘body politics’ and the cure of ailments – interceding against smallpox, measles, and the plague. His medieval images are quite synthetic, making it easy to identify, based almost exclusively on his nudity and youth, as he is the only saint with such characteristics apparent on church altars. The arrows that pierced his body – which would have been made of silver and which, for that very reason, have disappeared… – signal the diseases of which he was an advocate…
The image of Santa Catarina [Saint Catherine] is represented bearing the sword with which she was decapitated and the Wheel of blades, her attributes. The wheel was used on her, shattering itself without causing her any injury, but killing those who watched her ordeal. She vanquished her detractors with the Christian Faith, questioning idolatry. That’s why she became patroness of philosophers and wisdom and, therefore, of universities, professors, students and booksellers. But also of the wet nurses…
In these, as in other cases, the martyred Saints would only meet their death when beheaded.
Renaissance and Mannerism I
The 16th century witnessed a boom in construction and acquisitions in the Crato domains.
This renovation was due, in the first place, to the action of Infante [Prince] D. Luís (1506-1555), son of D. Manuel the 1st and brother of D. João the 3rd, when he took over the priory in 1527.
He was responsible for the remodelling of the chancel of the mother church, with the sgraffiti coffered ceiling and the acroterium finishes, as well as expansion and artistic aggiornamento works in the monastery of Flor da Rosa, where he intended to establish a College of Priests, works apparently never completed.
Among the assets from this period is the washbasin with the representation of Neptune, almost certainly from the sacristy of the monastic church of Flor da Rosa.
The great Solomonic wooden columns, that lost their gilding, are the work of a much later period, supposedly from 1758, or even later. They are attributed to the campaigns carried out by Prince D. Pedro (1717‑1786), then Prior of the Order, after the 1755 earthquake, and they also came from Flor da Rosa, where they were part of the altarpiece of the high altar at the monastic church.
João Luís Botelho (attributed)
Carved and gilded wood
18th century (around 1760)
From the Flor da Rosa Monastery
Solomonic columns with floral ornamentation, except in the last «torsades», close to the base, where it is decorated with cannelures.
They were part of a composition that comprised four – of which only these two survive – structuring a good gilded altarpiece, of the «Castilian» type, with the front joined to the sides by diagonal planes – according to an old photograph that captured the general look of the ensemble before its destruction in 1897. In the lateral planes, between the columns, the altarpiece held, on each side, a saint on a corbel.
In the deeper central part of the structure, an altar with a canopy housed the image of Our Lady of Neves, today venerated in the modern parish. The ensemble was crowned by an interrupted curved pediment, in the Johannine style [from the time of D. João V (John the 5th), 1707-1750], from which an attic developed, decorated by a cartouche with an embossed coat of arms. In its general appearance, the retable, unfortunately dismantled, is very clearly inscribed in the regional style of rocaille-type Eborese [from Évora] wood carvings, characteristic of the period from 1740 to 1780. Its comparative paradigm is the altarpiece of the Third Order in the transept of the epistle of the church of Our Lady of Carmo of Évora, of Carmelite nuns, by João Luís Botelho, dating from after 1760. It wouldn’t be farfetched to think of this Eborese carver, who lived in the city’s Rua do Espírito Santo and whose activity was documented in 1748 and 1762, as the presumed author of the main altarpiece of the Flor da Rosa monastic church.
The possible date of its execution (around 1760) seems to coincide with the period of execution of the works program implemented by Prince D. Pedro with the aim of alleviating the damage caused by the earthquake of 1755, soon after its occurrence. The evident formal similarity, the proximity of the presumed dates and the importance of Évora as a cultural and artistic centre in the 18th century — radiating to the entire Alentejo — seem to justify the attribution. With the retables were also lost, the ‘Collateral Altars of St. Joseph and St. Lucas, which are to the East: and that of S. Braz [St. Blaise] and St John the Baptist to the West, with its large figure statuary on gilded altarpieces’ (in the words of Father Cardoso).
Renaissance and Mannerism II
The period from mid-16th century onwards coincides with a mitigation in the activity and importance of the Priory, but the pieces still present in Crato and in its parishes, as well as in the other possessions of the Order, denote devotional concerns and a limited artistic renewal, mainly constrained to regional workshops.
Despite that, the painted wood panel that we see in this room, a Calvary, was attributed to Francisco Venegas – a painter of Seville origin of recognized merits – but it possibly came from his workshop, and not directly from the master’s hand. It is a painting of considerable dimensions, which would probably have been part of a high altar retable.
Also noteworthy, not so much for its concrete connection to Crato but for its rarity, the detailed Indo-Portuguese Infant Jesus Bom Pastor [Good Shepherd], a work from late 16th century or the beginning of the 17th century. The Child adopts the Buddha pose and sits pensively on the top of the Sacred Mountain of Eastern myths and rites, ornamented by Catholic saints. It is part of the collection of the Casa Museu Padre Belo (in deposit).
Despite the vicissitudes that Crato went through when the troops of D. João de [D. Juan of] Austria (1629‑1679) invaded the village in the course of the Wars of the Restoration (1640-1668), the recovery of the domains of the Priory was gradually achieved soon after.
The liturgical imagery and implements found in the mother church of Crato, now in deposit at the Museum, share some light on this matter. But they also show a different devotional attitude from the end of the 17th century on, in the cult of the saints and in their depiction, that tends to be increasingly more emotional and theatricalized.
If the Virgin with the Child, still certainly from the 17th century, is sober in her pose and in a certain solemnity with which She presents herself to us, the other pieces of imagery reveal the gradual rejection of the most rigid models of the previous periods.
It is the case of a good wooden polychrome sculpture like that of Saint Francis; but our main focus is centred on the image of Saint Claire, displaying in her gestures the scope of the work of the wooden sculptors of the Baroque period. Both images are dated from the transition period from the 17th to the 18th century and intend to display all the verisimilitude of ‘living images’, according to the taste and pious feelings of the time.
Other pieces, such as the two crucifixes, are artworks in wood and ivory from the Casa Museu Padre Belo (in deposit), with obvious Indo-Portuguese art characteristics.
The garments are from the 18th century – chasuble, dalmatic, maniple and wall hanging cloth – and were selected from the significant Comendador Rebello de Carvalho Collection (Donation to the Crato Municipal Museum).
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