Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Alma Mater and the Countless Martyrs

Above: Reliquaries in the Alma Mater Museum

After Aragon King Alfonso I (1073-1134), the Battler, conquered the Moors (prior post), construction began immediately on a cathedral atop a former Mosque. The king gifted the archbishop with adjacent land for his headquarters.

When Aragon King Alfonso II (1157-1196) ascended to the throne, he had other plans. The Aljaferia Palace was not grand or comfortable enough for him, so he began major remodeling and additions to this prominent location. Upper floors in the Mudejar and later Renaissance traditions reflect the styles favored by subsequent royals of Aragon and Spain.

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Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Palace celebrates the elevation of Moorish culture

The prominent promotion of culture and arts seemed paramount to Ahmad al-Muqadir (1046-1081) when he focused on the construction of his Aljaferia Palace on the banks of the Ebro River. Zaragoza was the capital of the taifa, or state, under his rule as part of the Banu Hud dynasty, and he wanted his “House of Joy” to reflect its greatness. Heirs to his kingdom followed suit, leaving architectural beauty behind that would influence regional styles for centuries ahead.

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Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Mandatum novum do vobis….

Maundy Thursday. A holy day of obligation when I was little, but certainly not a holiday universally celebrated in Virginia Beach.

Maundy is derived from the above Latin. Yes, I am of such an early vintage that Mass was still conducted in Latin. That doesn’t mean I understood it. I thought novum do vobis has something to do with Nabisco vanilla wafers, which would have been a welcome substitute for the dry hosts adhered to the roof of your mouth at the Communion rail.

But here in Zaragoza, where we landed on Wednesday, Holy Thursday is big, the launch into a four-day holiday weekend. Thursday is commemorated as the day of the Last Supper, when Jesus informed his apostles one amongst them was about to betray him.

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