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The Convent of Santa Magdalena


The Convento de Santa Magdalena in Palma de Mallorca is the monastery where in 1552, a 21 year old girl was admitted into sisterhood. Catalina Tomàs eventually became Mallorca’s only saint, being beatified by Pope Pius VI in 1792, and finally canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930. She was born in Valldemossa in 1531; the saint died at the Santa Magdalena convent in 1574. Santa Catalina is known in Mallorca as La Beata. I will tell you a bit more about her some other time.

The convento is one of Palma’s many closed monasteries, where virtually no contact with the outside world is maintained. The monastery is not open to the public, but some very occasional exceptions have been known to occur.

I had the very good fortune to be allowed into the monastery just before Christmas as part of a guided tour. The monastery dates from the late 14th century; some Gothic elements are still preserved in the cloisters. There is an adjoining baroque church, however, the església parroquial de Santa Magdalena, dating from 1740 and open to the public.

Inside the convento, I was awestruck by the beauty of the painting shown here, said to be by the hand of Francesc Comes, a painter with uncertain origins. He may have come to Mallorca from València; he is documented to have worked in Mallorca from 1392 to 1415. You may not be able to see this original yourself, any time soon, but a number of other 15th century paintings by this Gothic master are on public display elsewhere on the island. You can find some stunning work of his at the Museo de Mallorca, the Museo Diocesà and the església parroquial de Santa Eulàlia (all of which in Palma de Mallorca), or else in the església parroquial de Santa Maria in Sineu.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The date: December 17th, 2008. The time was 17:54:27.

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