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Mafalda of Portugal

(1203—1257)


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(1203–1257),

princess. Daughter of Sancho I, king of Portugal, she was married in 1215 to her young cousin Henry I, king of Castile. In 1216, however, this marriage was annulled on grounds of consanguinity. Mafalda returned to Portugal and took the veil in 1222 at Arouca, a nunnery which became Cistercian at her suggestion. The austerity of her life was revealed by sleeping on the ground or spending whole nights in prayer. She devoted her considerable fortune to restoring Oporto cathedral, founding a hospice for pilgrims, and a hospital for twelve widows at Arouca as well as building a bridge over the river Talmeda. She ended her life on sackcloth and ashes. When her body was exhumed in 1617, it was found flexible and incorrupt. Her cult was confirmed in 1793. Feast: 2 (or 13) May.

AA.SS. Maii I (1737), 170, 787–91: Life by Fortunato di S. Bonaventura (1814);Bibl. SS., viii. 490–1.

Subjects: Christianity.


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