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Sijena: A treasure between nuns and politicians

Between legal resources and political wars, the Hundred works of the 15th and 16th centuries awaits a resolution of the conflict and a museum project for its exhibition

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Sijena: A treasure between nuns and politicians
More information
  • The ownership of works of Sijena
  • Lambán, on Treasure of Sijena: "The minister is foolish or takes us for fools"
  • Aragon criticizes "unfortunate" state in which came treasure of Sijena
  • The ' Day D ' for delivery of works of Sijena has arrived
  • FOTOGALERÍAEl Artistic Treasure of Sijena

Sister Encielada, who will walk in Twenties, strives in explanation of paradise that God has procured on Earth: Lights and shadows of monastery of Santa Maria de Sijena. Here sepulchre of Doña Sancha de Castilla, re mysterious remains of polychromy on Romanesque stone, re trill of some birds, to fold corner "beware, that fall hulls", and in general a cold that peels: Blacks in December. "Prayed here, but we helábamos," whispers sister. It is one thing to love God and anor to die in attempt. The sister laughs with occurrence. But smile suddenly freezes:

-and now y have brought treasure that comes out on TV and in newspapers... Well, that's good for you, isn't it?

-Ah, that's not our thing, we have nothing to do with it.

But it is, or it will be shortly. The Treasure of Sijena — Battle of Sijena would be more to say — rests packed in boxes on immense nave of convent's old dormitories founded in 1183. Since last Tuesday, technicians and Conservatives of Government of Aragon are gradually opening drawers and lifting plastics that hide pieces of greatest artistic-political discord of twentieth and XXI centuries in Spain.

Enlarge photo burial box of Isabel de Aragón. Inma Flores

Relief in alabaster of sixteenth century, sepulchres of nuns and abbess of XV, religious paintings of XVII and XVIII, Mudejar doors polychrome of a palate priory. According to some, looting of an plunder: that monjitasists began in nineteenth century and culminated in years 80 and 90 selling all se works and some more to highest bidder: A classic in history of relations between rural clergy and artistic heritage is Locker. According to ors, also loot of an plunder: one that Generalitat of Catalonia set in motion by becoming that, in highest bidder and to remain with treasure in years 80. For all tastes re is in interpretive keys of AffaireSijena. A politically settled but legally still unsolved issue.

No definitive owner

The curator Laura Asín raises and contemplates burial box of Isabel de Aragón. It is one of pieces that remained exhibited in Museum of Lleida until, in dawn of last Monday, y were evacuated of ir rooms by forces of Civil Guard and Mossos D'Esquadra in fulfillment of judicial resolution dictated by a judge of Huesca in 2015. Asín, head of service of dissemination of Cultural heritage, archives, museums and libraries of Government of Aragon, explains: "For legal and judicial reasons, it is still not possible to intervene or to proceed to restoration of pieces".

While legal remedies brought by Generalitat have not been resolved, Treasury is held by Government of Aragon... although it has no definitive owner. It is a treasure in Huesca's land and, at same time, for now, in no man's land. "Our lawyers tell us that resources of Generalitat have no future, but...", admits a spokesman for Ministry of Culture of Government of Aragon.

"I am convinced that supreme will give us reason and that pieces return to Museum of Lleida," says its director, Josep Giralt, who has already claimed to be able to inspect conditions of space where y have been deposited in Sijena works. "Well I would have liked to have been able to inspect museum of Lleida before going to retire works, but y did not let us", Apostilles upset curator Laura Asín.

His colleague Ana Armillas, director of Huesca Museum, is anor technique that participates se days in Sijena in work of unpacking and study of pieces. The two took part in process of evacuation of works of Museum of Lleida. "It was all very tense and very sad," recalls Armillas. "It was a very hard night, and if we put ourselves in place of our colleagues in Lleida, I guess it must have been same for m. Some of m cried when pieces came out of museum, as we wept when y arrived at Sijena. "

Enlarge Interior Photo of open to public of monastery of Santa Maria de Sijena. Inma Flores

And while Conservatives work in conserving and politicians in doing politics, in Villanueva de Sijena y rub ir hands. "It's very good news. Already when y came in summer of 2016 first works came whole buses on Saturdays and Sundays, and we had it full every weekend, "recalls Maria Jesus, owner of winery, only restaurant in this town of 400 souls.

The center of Discord

The mayor of Villanueva, Ildefonso-Lillas, of regionalist Aragonese party, underlines true mor of Lamb: that, beyond treasure of discord, nuns of French Order of Bethlehem, Assumption of Virgin and St. Bruno, dwellers of St. Mary of Sijena from 1980, finally to show not only pieces of treasure now reunified, but entire monastery, a Romanesque ensemble of extraordinary artistic value. The team of architects Pemán and Franco works on a definitive museum project that includes monastic ensemble, treasure included. Meanwhile, and at least until February, space where y displaying pieces that arrived a year and a half from National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC) has been closed. "They will have to increase visiting hours and let people contemplate monastery," warns mayor, who on dispute with Catalonia has most clear ideas: "The judgement of judge of Huesca has no cracks where drive a resource."

At present, monastery of Santa María Reina de Sijena only admits visits for groups of 25 people on Saturdays in morning, plus cases of poor clueless devils that are presented re by good, seize intercom that hangs of portal of Closing and ask:

"Can you?" We've come a long way.

And n, sister Encielada will open doors or leave visitor with a span of noses, as I give her. Because right now, Santa Maria de Sijena looks like no man's land. So is his treasure.


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