He traveled from Portugal to Brazil on an Air Force plane from the South American country with the honors of a head of state and, once at his destination, he was transferred to the Itamaray Palace, the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, protected by a solid security scheme.
At 234 years old, this Wednesday he will be the protagonist of the celebration of the Bicentennial of Brazilian Independence before his return to Porto.
(Read here: Why did Bolsonaro order the heart of Emperor Pedro I to be brought from Portugal)
It is nothing more and nothing less than from the heart of Pedro IV of Portugal and I of Brazilwhich has been preserved in formalin since he died in 1834. Hero of the independence of that country, who was achieved in the Grito de Ipiranga under his leadership.
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Before dying of tuberculosis in Portugalwhere he had gone to fight for the right of his daughter to accede to the throne of that country, Peter IV He asked that his heart be removed and taken to Porto, where it has remained on an altar in the church of Our Lady of Lapa.
The body was transferred to Brazil in 1972, precisely to celebrate 150 years of independence, and is preserved in a crypt in São Paulo. A little over two weeks ago, the heart arrived in Brasilia, just to be ready for the celebration this Wednesday.
The trip back to Porto is scheduled for this Thursday. To ensure that the transfer does not compromise the integrity of the organ, an expert technical report from the Portuguese National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences was required, which concluded that the transport can be carried out, provided that a pressurized environment is required.
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An old cult
Although the story of moving a historic heart seems gruesome, it is neither unique nor strange. In fact, during the Middle Ages there was a special cult for relics, especially those related to the life of Jesus Christ and saints.
Heads, arms, legs and vital organs were part of the market. Everything counted: teeth, bones, skin, splinters, cloth, and clothing. It was a way of establishing contact with the divine world and on many occasions extraterrestrial powers were granted to them.
Lay people were also attracted. They kept them in their houses and even hung them around their necks. Sometimes they were split or cut to multiply them and, of course, copies and forgeries were not lacking.
Aside from religious significance and established fashion, the relics served as a center of unity. The Iberian Peninsula keeps numerous of them, which served to forge a character in a territory divided into small kingdoms and in the process of forging itself as a country.
The heart of D. Pedro I of Brazil and IV of Portugal, preserved in the Church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa, in Porto (Portugal). Before dying, the emperor of Brazil left in his will the intention that his heart remain in the city with which he had an intense relationship. pic.twitter.com/thC21JQXKX
— Curiotweet (@Curiotweet1) September 4, 2022
The Apostle James
One of the most important and oldest corresponds neither more nor less than to the body of the Apostle James. When it was discovered in the ninth century in Galicia a real commotion was aroused and even today thousands of pilgrims walk for kilometers to see it in the Galician cathedral.
It was an important reason for the union of the Catholics against the expansion of the Muslims. The tomb became a symbol for the kingdoms of northern Spain, which had not yet been formed as a nation. And, in turn, it magnified the figure of the apostle, a brave soldier, who, on a white horse, fought against the so-called “Moors” who invaded the peninsula for eight centuries until 1492.
The discovery of the tomb of Santiago constituted an essential pillar for “the formation of the common culture and the political institutions of medieval Spain”, according to the historian and philologist Américo Castro.
In the year 829 a shepherd found the body and gave the news to Bishop Teodomiro, who contacted the King Alfonso II, who ruled that little Christian kingdom. He went personally to verify the version and took the course that existed then from Oviedo and that today is known as the Primitive Way, the oldest of those that lead to the place of discovery. Since then, travelers began to visit it and each one advanced on their own path, thus forming multiples of them.
In 1993, UNESCO declared the Camino de Santiago a world heritage site and pointed to the so-called French Way as the busiest in ancient times. In 2015 it included the Camino del Norte and its variants. Today it is a network of trails that lead to the cathedral of the Galician capital.
The pilgrims arrive at the basilica, under whose main altar there is a silver urn that keeps the relics of Santiago the elder and his disciples Athanasius and Theodore.
Throughout history there have been doubts and debates about the true identity of the remains, but the truth is that the town assumes that the apostle was in the area.
The important thing is that “collective belief created an objective and influential reality”, in the words of Santiago Muñoz Machado, director of the Royal Spanish Academy and author of the book Vestigios, a compilation of eleven studies on beliefs, behaviors and institutions in the Iberian Peninsula .
When people ask Saint Isidro the farmer to remove the water and set the sun, they are unaware of the multiple miracles of this Madrid peasant born in the 11th century, when the region was under the power of the Muslims.
He married Toribia, who would later be known as Santa María de la Cabeza, with whom he had Illán. He discovered springs that saved the region from drought and some with healing waters. He also caused the oxen to be raised from a well into which his son had fallen and the oxen to plow alone with the help of the angels.
The patron saint of Madrid and protector of farmers died in 1172 at the age of 90 and was canonized in 1622. His incorrupt body is found in the Collegiate Church of San Isidro in the Spanish capital —his wife’s remains were also moved there—. In May this year he was exhibited for the first time since 1985 to commemorate 400 years since he was declared a saint.
San Isidoro unknowingly collaborated with the Spanish union against the Muslims. And he did it through a dream of Bishop Alvito, who saw him while he slept in a place hitting the ground with a staff. When they looked for what would be in the indicated point, they found the corpse of Saint Isidoro.
Shortly before, the Catholic Church had granted permission to exhume and transfer the remains of the saints, so the Leonese kings Fernando I and Sancha took the body from Seville, in the south, to León, northwest of Madrid. Along the way, the miracles multiplied and, therefore, the fame of Saint Isidore. When the corpse arrived at its destination, in 1603, a crowd was waiting for it and it was already a symbol of Christian union against the Arabs.
His remains rest today in a wooden chest, covered in silver, whose interior has Andalusian-style embroidery. It is in the main altar of the church that bears his name, where more than 2,500 relics are currently kept. At the time there was a real traffic of them. The jawbone of Saint John the Baptist stands out, as well as the remains of Saint Vicente de Ávila, of Pelayo, a child martyred in Córdoba in 925, and Saint Martino, whose hand, separated from the body, is taken out to be kissed on January 12, the date of his death. death.
One of the most complete and strange collections of relics is the one that Felipe II fed during his reign between 1556 and 1598. It was made up of corpses. In the monastery of El Escorial he kept 7,432 pieces: whole bodies, 144 heads and more than 300 different members of martyrs. He could not count among them the remains of the apostle Santiago, although he tried.
The king was obsessed with the mortal remains and personal belongings of those who had given their lives to God. A devotee of daily mass, in 1567 he obtained permission from Pope Pius V to officially begin collecting relics from him (although he had already been collecting them for two decades) wherever he saw fit.
Despite the multiple wars he had to fight, he never neglected his hobby. He insisted on confirming his origin and traveled to the places of origin (in fact, they come from 17 different countries). He commissioned Ambrosio de Morales, an antiquarian and epigrapher, to collect the pieces and place them in the basilica of El Escorial. The man was in trouble to constantly expand the space.
The king used to ask for a particular relic to be brought to him and kiss it. He believed in its spiritual power for the forgiveness of sins and its healing abilities, so he also applied it to injured parts of the body. He spent entire days reviewing and cataloging them. He even created the position of “reliquary” to take care of his collection.
During his agony, shortly before he died in 1598, he uttered a phrase that was recorded in the books: “Do not touch the relics.” And the relics are still there in the monastery, sixty kilometers from Madrid.
many and varied
Although it is a tradition that is no longer practiced, for centuries there was a great circulation of all kinds of relics: from bones to objects. In Spain, among others, samples of the Virgin Mary’s milk (in the Oviedo Cathedral and the Murcia Cathedral Museum), her hair (in the Valladolid Fair Museum), one of the coins of Judas (in the cathedral of Toledo), part of the shroud that covered the face of Jesus (in Oviedo) and nine thorns from the crown of Christ (in the cathedrals of Oviedo and Seville). Knowing them and following their history is to recompose the path that the country lived until it became the modern nation of today.
JUANITA SAMPER OSPINA
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