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Origines of Monastery
The foundation of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Coimbra is part of a movement of religious renewal which at the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th century in Europe sought a return to the sources of the Gospel, taking as its model the early Church and the life and example of the Apostles.
On 28 June 1131, the first stone of the Monastery was blessed. It was built on land ceded by D. Afonso Henriques (that would be the first King of Portugal), in a place then called Banhos Reais (Royal Baths).
The mentors of its foundation were Archdeacon D. Telo, the School Master D. João Peculiar and São Teotónio (the first Saint in Portugal).
In February 1132, with 72 clerics of canons regents of the Order of St. Augustine, solemn vows were made and the First Prior of this religious community, St. Teotonio, was elected. Dom Afonso Henriques, the nobles and the people were present at this celebration.
The Monastery of Santa Cruz has had, in the course of history, a very remarkable action. Through it, in times of Christian reconquest, it was possible to mission the peoples of the newly conquered lands, contributing to their settlement and also providing the spiritual and temporal help needed by the people in those troubled times.
In terms of culture, the most popular saint in the world stood out from his monastery: St Anthony of Lisbon (1195 - 1231), who came from Lisbon and did his spiritual and intellectual formation in Santa Cruz, before becoming a Franciscan, moving to the Convent of the Order of Friars Minor in the Olivais, also in Coimbra.
At the time of the friars, and from the second half of the 16th century onwards, the parish of Santa Cruz was exercised in the Church of St. John of the Donas (also known as the Church of St. John of the Cross), an area that in 1919 was transformed into a café-restaurant - the Café Santa Cruz.
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Sacred Art Museum