The coffer of the Royal Chapel of Santa Barbara de San Juan del Hospital in Valencia

ARTICLE VALENCIABONITA.COM. published 11 Sept 2017.

  • Today we talk about the life of emperatriz Constanza II Hohenstauffen, who brought the devotion to Valencia for Santa Barbara (patroness of, among many, pyrotechnic), and that his remains, Unfortunately, They ran a sad end during the Spanish Civil War.

The old medieval churchyard of San Juan del Hospital, commonly known as South Patio, hides a little gem, maybe, many are unaware.

As many of you know already, South courtyard is the only urban medieval cemetery preserves the city of Valencia and its chapel is unique in Europe, where there is only one like her in the Belgian city of Bruges.

But not today speak of the chapel, but call crypt of Santa Barbara and a coffer (tomb) located in a chapel inside the church of San Juan del Hospital. On the crypt, we can say that it is located at the inlet to the courtyard and along the mole that forms the chapel of Santa Barbara that you can visit inside the church. curious, In addition, in the basement of this courtyard are elements belonging to earlier cultures, such as spina of the Roman circus (which it is closed but can "see" through an imaginary line) and a small Islamic source.

the crypt, one of the protagonists of our article, Originally it was the place where was buried the Empress Constance II Hohenstauffen (1230-1307), also known as Constanza Constanza Greek or Roman Empress Augusta East, illegitimate daughter of Frederick II and Bianca Lancia, and widow of the emperor of Byzantium Juan Ducas Vatatzes, known as "Vatacio the Heretic" or John III of Nicea, with whom he married, the Empress, at the age of 14 the latter years.

Constanza came to Valencia, arguably, fleeing from the calamities suffered since the death of Vatacio, since he was locked up in a Sicilian prison, later, pursued by his stepson Emperor Teodoro Láscaris, at which time he decided to embark, almost alms and sick, direction to a newly acquired Valencia by James I, He joined her family ties.

Doña Constanza had leprosy, disease in those days could not forgive empresses, and Santa Barbara miraculously cured her devotee in the city of Valencia. I contracted in the years he was locked up in prison Sicilian.

The story of healing explains the origin of devotion to Santa Barbara in Valencia, as we can observe on the web San Juan de el Hospital. It turns out that passing the empress with his equerry (servant carrying brake horse) the church of San Juan del Hospital, horse stubbornly said head a place on the floor, in which, burrowing, He appeared an image of Santa Barbara. Constance washed image into a bowl and then, with the same water, body he bathed, and miraculously healed leprosy. In gratitude for his miraculous healing, she herself commanded to erect in honor of Santa Barbara a chapel on the south side of the chancel.

The Empress, who professed great devotion to the martyr, He propagated at different locations in the figure of Santa Barbara of Nicomedia, Current patroness of gunsmiths, smelters, Mineros, prisoners, Civil Engineers, stonemasons, gunners, Firefighters, hosts, Campaneros (a bell of the Cathedral of Valencia has the name Barbara, specifically "La Barbera", of the year 1681 with 526 Kg.), Pyrotechnic and populations as Faura, Casinos, Moncada or Catadau, where he is also tradition that the Fallera Mayor of Valencia go to court to pray.

Christian virgin and martyr of the third century suffered the same martyrdom as San Vicente Martir: It was tied to a pony, flagelada, torn with iron rakes, placed in a bed of ceramic cutting pieces and burnt with hot irons. King Dióscoro sent to court, where the judge handed down capital punishment by decapitation. His own father who was beheaded at the top of a mountain, after which, to lose this, caught lightning, killing him also.

It's known, In addition, which according to tradition dating back to the middle of the thirteenth century, and is endorsed with documentation and bibliography, Constanza was brought to Valencia the column where the martyr was martyred, a stone from which flowed water and served for the baptism of Santa Barbara, miracle that took place in Nicomedia (Asia Minor) in the third century, and a bone, apparently holy arm, preserved in a glass tube with silver closure at both ends, in one of which the shield of the Order of Malta later would record, all being donated by the empress to the church of Valencia.

With the years, and yet in Valencia, since he lived in the late Palacio Real, the empress ordered to be buried in San Juan del Hospital rejecting it did in the real pantheon of Monastery Sijena, as he stated in his will, where he fulfilled his wish to his death 15 April of 1307, moving his remains to the aforementioned chapel that was built, where there was the crypt mentioned that you see in the picture below (besides pudridero, Both recovered but not visited for now) and, on the outside, a source to which the Valencian people could access all 4 of December, Feast of the Holy.

Photograph © - Please, If you share this indicates the source :)

Photograph © - Please, If you share this indicates the source 🙂

As we stated above, the crypt was originally the place where was buried, but over the centuries the Royal Brotherhood of Santa Barbara would transfer his remains to a wooden urn and then reformed the Royal Chapel of Santa Barbara (real name receives by Charles II, who granted this title for being the founder and Constanza being the Kings of Aragon benefactors of the same, although centuries ago, his nephew and heir, rey don Jaime II the Just, already granted such honors to the old chapel and place where he was buried), being, In addition, Also buried, in a cavity excavated in the contrafuerte, the relics of the Holy that brought Valencia. All this would be in 1696 and with the permission of King Carlos II, all after it reformed and adapted, years ago, the Baroque style chapel, being the finished work in 1689 by Baroque architect Juan Pérez Castiel, where, we have not mentioned, They are also the burial crypt of the Guild of Tailors (13th century) and funerary glass of the Joan-Torres former holders of the chapel.

Royal Chapel of Santa Barbara. photo

Already in the twentieth century, and the unfortunate situation where the temple of San Juan del Hospital was in the year 1939, Royal Brotherhood of Santa Barbara asked the pastor of the church of San Esteban Protomártir, authorization for one of its chapels could continue practicing the cult of Santa Barbara provisionally. This was done for a few years and were left on deposit in the parish relics relic column and pile up 2002.

Relic and stack column. photo

"Real Brotherhood of Santa Barbara virgin and martyr of the church of San Juan del Hospital. Stone which tradition miraculously gushed water that served for the baptism of Santa Barbara. Grant from the was Emperatriz Constanza of Swabia. Property of the Brotherhood.


"Stack stone column and used as a support which according to tradition miraculously gushed water for the baptism of Santa Barbara. Acquired and owned by the Brotherhood that ordered styling at their expense. "


Inscriptions can be seen in the section of the column and stack stone that brought Doña Constanza from Nicea, and they were placed by cofrades.

Regarding the other protagonist of our article, said wooden urn or casket to which were transferred the remains of Constanza, it is suspended on the right wall of the Royal Chapel of Santa Barbara, where it remained for centuries, although it can now be seen is a faithful replica of which was desecrated, although there can read the following:

Here lies Dª Sostaça Augusta / Empress of Greece.

Arqueta Chapel of Santa Barbara. photo

The explanation is that, as they told us from the file of San Juan del Hospital, Words of Margaret Ordeig Corsini, Technical Director of the Museum of the Hospital San Juan de el Hospital de Valencia set, a reproduction was made thanks to photographs and historical descriptions of historians, where we provide fun facts, as the wood used is very old and the lining further.

we suggest, In addition, such reproduction of the casket was a rigorous scale of the original, but what, Unfortunately, small urn is completely empty, since the remains were scattered around the yard, except for the skull, which was placed, as an adornment, on the front nose of a car. Sad end for Constance residues Hohenstauffen, Byzantine empress who brought the devotion of Santa Barbara to Valencia. Well he did not deserve.

One of the old images that were used to reproduce the coffer-scale

In addition, in the same chapel there was a picture of Constanza dressed in Valencia, in period costume, prayerfully to Santa Barbara, but it was also stolen during the desecration in the Spanish Civil War. maybe, it is not known, He ran the same fate as the original altarpiece of the chapel, which it was burned during the Civil War, where now presides over the chapel was brought from palentinas lands in postwar period.

Finally, as we've talked about Santa Barbara, it is noteworthy that between Metro stations and Alameda Colón is a figure of Santa Barbara, which in this case it was set to be patron saint of miners and tunnelers. Despite not being the "official protection" of the Valencia underground, It is almost impossible to find another figure that can protect the bowels of the city.

This figure was installed in this place in the constructions of this tunnel section there by 1994 to give thanks at the end of drilling, besides the occasion of holy devotion and future protection for those who utilize the place, Following, because, the traditional custom in mines. Nevertheless, It was not until 2013 when he learned of its existence by chance thanks to a subway user who noticed the small illuminated image from one of the trains running.



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