The Synagogal Anniversary

Synagogues did not exist in Mallorca between 1435 and 1987. The island’s Jewish community had been banished and eradicated twice, first in 1391 and then in 1544, had been massacred, persecuted, chased away, burned at the stake, killed, executed, exiled, expelled or forcibly converted.

In 1987, the first Mallorcan synagogue for 550 years was consecrated. Last week, the Jewish Community in Mallorca celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of the synagogue in Palma. The ceremony was attended by various local authorities as well as the President of the Balearic Parliament, Pere Rotger.

Yehei shmëh rabba mevarakh lealam ulalmey almaya (May His great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity).

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 2nd, 2012. The time was 11:25:16. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Guillem Bosch.

Muchas gracias.

The Synagogal Anniversary

Slumbering Beauties

I have occasionally been asked about, or sometimes even been criticized for, my intermittent reporting on matters of the Catholic church. There were suggestions that my blog entries on monasteries in Mallorca, on churches, chapels and the Cathedral, or on festivities related to saints and saints’ days amount to promoting the Catholic religion or something to that extent. I keep explaining that an exhaustive blog on the subject of Mallorca would be flawed if it did not include references to matters of church traditions in a country as deeply entrenched in the Catholic religion as Spain was and still is. No, I am not a Catholic, I never was and I never will be. If I did a blog on Japan, I would certainly have to include topics of Shintoism or Buddhism quite frequently, don’t you think?

Every time, I point out that I continuously aim to give equal attention to other religions such as Islam, Sufism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Mormonism or Jehovanism. After all, there has been a time in Mallorca when Catholicism, Islam and Judaism coexisted in perfect harmony for a few hundred years, or so it is sometimes claimed.

Okay, I have never reported on Scientology and I am not sure that I will ever consider it relevant.

Allow me to talk about the Virgin Mary once more, on occasion of the recent Festivitat de l’Assumpció de La Mare de Déu (Ascent of Virgin Mary). The celebration is also called Dormició de Maria (Dormition of Virgin Mary).

I have visited a number of church exhibitions of the Slumbering Beauties over the last number of years and this year, was all intent on filling in the gaps that I might have missed in the past. Easier said than done. When I was in Palma last Friday, I approached six churches plus the Cathedral but, I found myself locked out in all of them but two. Saturday and Sunday, the same happened in the pueblos. Of seven churches, only three were open for visits at the time of my arrival. For your perusal, I am offering you reclining Mare de Déu Dormida examples taken in – from top to bottom – La Seu (Cathedral) and Sant Miquel in Palma, and Campos, Felanitx, Santanyí and Porreres in the Part Forana (the hinterland). I was told that the most beautiful Virgin Mary statue was laid out in the parish church of s’Arracó (Església de Sant Crist), but I did not get there before time and the display there is now no longer on view, until next year.

This year, some installations will be on display until August 22nd. The parish church in Santanyí will show its sleeping beauty (above) until August 21st, the parish church in Muro, until August 23rd, and the church in Alaró, until August 25th. In Palma, the exhibition at the Església de Sant Francesc comes to a close on August 22nd, as will the one at La Seu de Mallorca. An exhibition Mostra de la Mare de Déu d’Agost will be open at the Monestir de la Puríssima Concepció until August 23rd. A Funeral Procession of the Ascending Virgin will be held on August 22nd at 19h00 at the Església del Monestir de la Concepció.

The photos were taken, from top to bottom, in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 17th, 2012. The time was 15:28:09 and 13:34:54, Campos, August 18th, 2012, at 11:05:14, Felanitx, August 15th, 2012, at 11:56:02, Santanyí, August 18th, 2012, at 12:09:45, and Porreres, August 19th, 2012, at 20:28:38.

Slumbering Beauties

Monthly Lunchtime Organ Concerts in Palma’s Cathedral

One of the finest organs in Mallorca can be found in Palma’s Cathedral. Sadly, there are not many opportunities to hear the sound of this instrument. For the last ten or twelve years, a Festival Internacional de Órgano en la Catedral de Mallorca was celebrated during the four Sundays in October. There is a possibility that this Festival may have to be suspended this year. La Crisis.

Tomorrow, however, there will be a chance to listen to the Gothic organ at the occasion of a series of lunchtime concerts performed by Bartomeu Veny Vidal, the Cathedral’s organist. These half-hour concerts will be given every first Tuesday of the month at 12h00, with the exception of December and January. The concerts will be given for free, but there is an admission charge to the Cathedral of 4 €, unless you are a resident with proper documents in which case admission is granted free of charge.

The organ in Palma’s Cathedral was built in 1477, rebuilt in 1795 and restored in 1993; in 2006 it was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural (Cultural Heritage).

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 10th, 2012. The time was 12:29:48 and 11:04:23, respectively.

Monthly Lunchtime Organ Concerts in Palma’s Cathedral

The Carthusian Apothecary

When the Kingdom of Mallorca ceased to exist, the royal palace Palau del Rei Sanç in Valldemossa was ceded to the church and in 1399 it was transformed into a Carthusian monastery known as Cartoixa de Valldemossa. The monks were forced to relinquish the monastery after just over 400 years when the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizabal dispossessed a large number of church properties in 1835. The property passed into private ownership shortly before Frederik Chopin and George Sand arrived in the Winter of 1838. Today the Cartoixa serves as a museum, not least for its association with King Sancho and Chopin. Amongst many intriguing aspects of the Cartoixa I would like to highlight the old apothecary shop or pharmacy. The pharmacy was installed by the monks during the 17th century. Old bottles, potions, balances and medicinal instruments of the period are well-preserved, including some 135 ceramic jars from the 18th century (see photo).

The photo was taken in Valldemossa, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 17th, 2012. The time was 12:59:22.

The Carthusian Apothecary

The Capella de Sant Bernat

The Catedral de Mallorca, in Palma, is well worth a visit, not least for the splendour of some of its 15 lateral chapels (there are four more chapels which are not normally accessible, and closed to the public).

I particularly like the altarpiece sculpted by Tòmas Vila in 1921 in the Capella de Sant Bernat, to the right of the Portal del Mirador. Previously, there had been a Baroque altarpiece adorning this chapel by the hand of Francisco de Herrera, but that one was destroyed by a blaze in 1912. The genius of Modernisme, Antoni Gaudí was working on an overhaul of the Cathedral’s interior at the time, and he commissioned a redesign of the Chapel of Saint Bernard. Gaudí abandoned the Cathedral project in 1914, though, due to disagreements with the Cathedral chapter and it was his disciple and assistant, Joan Rubió i Bellver who oversaw and directed the new artistic design of the Capella de Sant Bernat. Behind Tòmas Vila’s altarpiece (photo top) we can admire two stained glass windows designed by Antoni Gaudí in 1903.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 10th, 2012. The time was 12:35:10.

The Capella de Sant Bernat

Irreparabile Tempus

Time is relative. As Wikipedia puts it, time is used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects. In addition, the temporal position of events with respect to the transitory present is continually changing.

In the old days, let’s say, 188 years ago, in 1824, people here in Mallorca could on the whole not read nor write. Education was a privilege of the upper class then, of land owners and the landed gentry. Likewise with time keeping. Only the church and nobility needed to know what hour of the day it was at any given moment. The common man in the street would structure his year by the saints; today, July 14th, for instance, would be the day of Sant Camilo (Saint Camillus de Lellis). The hours of the day, as far as the farmer was concerned, would be governed by the position of the sun; daybreak would mean that animals wanted to be fed. Other than that, it was important to know when it was time for church mass; but for that one could rely on the church bells to be rung.

I can’t tell you more about the origin of sundials here in Mallorca except to say that they always counted the hours from sunrise to sunset, from dawn to dusk. Nighttime was for sleeping.

Irreparabile tempus. Time can not be recovered.

The photo was taken in Manacor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 13th, 2012. The time was 17:31:43

Irreparabile Tempus

The Iglesia de Santa María in Sineu

Today, Wednesday, is market day in Sineu. To my knowledge, this is the only market in all of Mallorca holding a license to sell livestock. You can buy horses here and mules, sheep and goats, pigs, cows and dogs. Of course you can also buy chicken here and turkeys and pigeons, but fowl and rabbits and birds don’t need a livestock license and can be bought virtually anywhere, certainly in places such as Inca, Manacor and Felanitx. Of course, the town of Sineu is worth a visit not only for its weekly market but, also for some other sights and historic buildings. Today I want to draw your attention to the parish church of Sineu, the Iglesia de Santa María de Sineu. The church has Gothic elements of architecture, originally dating from the 14th century, but a complete rebuild was necessary in 1505 after a rather violent blaze. The separate, external bell tower was built in 1549. There are five lateral chapels on either side of the nave and there is a splendid old altar piece, now being relegated to a secondary position. There is also a rather charming church museum to the back of the altar with some old bits and pieces, including a large collection of Escudelles (Mediaeval bowls) or rather, shards and fragments thereof (photo bottom).

Four saints caught my eye, displayed on a wall to the side (photo top). I suppose they might be a representation of the Four Apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but I am only guessing.

The photos were taken in Sineu, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 20th, 2012. The time was 11:06:54 and 11:10:25, respectively.

The Iglesia de Santa María in Sineu