Aragon claims some XIII century frescoes from Catalonia

Aragon claims some XIII century frescoes from Catalonia

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The autonomous government of Aragon has requested the return of the XIII century frescoes that were removed from the monastery of Santa María de Sigena in the Spanish Civil War and that are currently in the National Museum of Art of Catalonia, in Barcelona. However, the government of Catalonia refuses and advocates keeping the frescoes where they are because according to the Catalan Minister of Culture, Ferran Mascarrell, these works would not exist were it not for their Community.

This is not a sound argument in legal terms. In addition, the Catalan government has fought on other occasions to recover items of historical value that were in well-preserved places. As an example, the Papal Papers of Salamanca serve, documents that the dictator Franco obtained from various institutions in 1939 and which have begun to be repatriated after decades of legal proceedings.

Aragon has defended the belonging of these frescoes, but the government was not the owner of the monastery, so it has no rights to claim them. With the intervention of Juan Álvarez Mendizábal, Prime Minister of Queen Isabel II, the monastery was privatized and the Order of Hospitallers stopped owning it. Since 1985 the Order of Saint John has allowed a group of sister nuns from Bethlehem and the Assumption of the Virgin and Saint Bruno to continue the ration tradition at Santa María de Sigena.

Since at the beginning of this year the Vatican ceded the rights to Aragon, this government has the right to take Catalonia to court in case they refuse to return the works.

The frescoes were removed by order of the government in the Civil War, so there are vestiges of the war such as the Salamanca papers. The monastery was declared a national monument in 1923, which is in conflict with the previous law in case of removing the frescoes.

The Santa Maria de Sigena monastery It was built in the 12th century and has a Romanesque style with frescoes depicting plant motifs and portraits of biblical characters. It is believed that they were made by English painters. In 1936 it was looted and burned by the Republican side. In order to save the pieces that remained in 1960, the works were transferred to the National Museum in Barcelona.

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