On this day: Bd. Joana of Portugal, O.P.

by Gerelyn Hollingsworth

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On this day we commemorate Blessed Joana, Princess of Portugal, daughter of King Afonso V and Isabella of Coimbra.

Joana was born in 1452, heiress to the throne of Portugal. She wanted to become a Dominican nun, but her father and her brother pressured her to marry. There were offers from Richard III of England and Charles VII of France, among others.

In 1475, Joana was allowed to enter the convent, but her father and her brother refused to allow her to take vows. She lived as a sister, and gave her income to the "redemption of Christian slaves from the Moors". Finally, in 1485, she took religious vows and became "the Dominican nun she had long wanted to be". She was still called home by her brother to assist with state business, and during one of those visits she was poisoned "by a woman she had banished from Aveiro". She suffered for several months, and on May 12, 1490, as the nuns who were reciting the Litany of the Saints reached the invocation, “Omnes Sancti Innocentes, orate pro ea”, Joana died. She was beatified by Pope Innocent XII in 1693.

-- Butler's Lives

Click here to see sculptures of Joana in her royal robes and in her Dominican habit, a representation in blue tile of the Ceremony of the Cutting of the princess's hair at the Convent of Jesus, and a painting of Princess Joana Entering the Dominican Convent of Jesus at Aveiro.

Click here to see her picture and her coat of arms, and to read her biography and the Letter of Pope Paul VI naming her the Patron of the Diocese of Aveiro with the liturgical honors of a canonized saint. At the bottom of the page is a hymn to Santa Joana. (Click here for Google Translate.)

Click here to see some prayer cards of Santa Joana Princesa, Padroeira de Aveiro.

Click here for a picture of the tomb in which Santa Joana's relics are preserved and here for a picture of the exterior of the Museu Santa Joana Princesa, the former Convento de Jesus.

Today is a holiday in Aveiro, as the people celebrate the Feast of Saint Joana the Princess. This weekend the sailing regatta Saint Joana the Princess will be held.

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