Monday, 4 Dec 2023

Nuns accused of stealing religious paintings from Convent in Spain

Nuns on the run! Sisters are accused of stealing religious paintings from their Convent in Spain

  • Ten sisters from Avila in western Spain allegedly took 20 sacred works 

An unholy row has broken out in Spain as a group of nuns stand accused of stealing religious paintings from their convent.

Ten sisters from Avila province in central-western Spain have caused outrage after allegedly ‘carrying off’ more than 20 sacred works after leaving the convent, leaving it abandoned.

The only remaining sisters of the Carmelite order in Piedráhita closed and vacated the Convent of Amor Misericordioso y de la Madre de Dios, which was founded in 1460, earlier this month.

Several days later, on October 16, the works of art and other effects, which were located in the convent’s Museum of Sacred Art, were loaded onto lorries and taken away.

The most valuable among the treasured pieces was a painting by Alonso Cano, a 17th century Spanish artist, which depicts Christ after the resurrection.

Ten nuns from Avila, central western Spain have caused fury after allegedly stealing 20 paintings after leaving the Convent of Amor Misericordioso y de la Madre de Dios

The removal of the works from the convent led to a protest by 300 of Piedráhita’s 1,700 inhabitants, who held signs reading ‘shameful theft’ while chanting ‘Hands in the air – this is a hold-up!’

A protester at the weekend told The Times: ‘We have the right to make that demand because we are talking about centuries of the history of Piedráhita, of ties of union, of worship, of feeling, and of the heritage of a people.’

According to the newspaper, the mayor Maria Carmen Zafra accused the nuns of closing the convent ‘without any consultation, depriving us of a place of worship integral to the community’ and ‘taking with them cherished and historically important pieces of our heritage’.

She said the painting by Cano had been commissioned by María de Jesús y del Espino, the convent’s prioress, in 1640 for the worship of those in Piedráhita.

The regional government has appealed to the  ‘generosity’ of the nuns, who have moved to a Carmelite community in Valencia

The ten nuns have moved to a Carmelite community in Valencia, with the works reportedly transported to the order’s Convent of San Andrés in Salamanca.

The municipal authority has asked the regional government of Castile and León to intervene, and the regional government has appealed to ‘the generosity’ of the sisters to return the works.

The mayor has been told the Mater Unitatis Federation of the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance – the convent’s owner – had a permit from the regional government to transfer the assets.

A local action group applied for the site and its treasures to be designated as protected heritage after the closure of the convent. The application is currently under review.

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