Origin of Monastery
The construction of the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra is part of a movement of religious renewal in Europe that lasted from the end of the 11th century until the beginning of the 13th century. The goal of movement was to bring back the earliest Gospel principles, based on the primitive church foundations and the life of the Apostles.
On June 28th, 1131, the cornerstone was blessed and constructions began. The Monastery was built on a piece of land given by Dom Afonso Henriques located in an area that was then called Banhos Reais.
The masterminds behind the construction were the Archdeacon Telo and the Schoolmaster João Peculiar. In February of 1132, solemn vows were made and St. Teotonio was elected the first Prior of this religious community, which already had 72 canons that followed the Order of St. Agostinho. Among the attendees of this celebration were Dom Afonso Henriques, the nobility and the people.
The Monastery of Santa Cruz was responsible for remarkable actions over the course of history. During the times of the Christian reconquest, the Monastery carried out preaching missions to the people of the newly conquered lands, contributing to the fixation of Christianity through the provision of spiritual and temporal aid to the troubled population.
The Monastery is also known for hosting the most popular saint of the world: St. Antonio (1195-1231), who was born and raised in Lisbon but made his spiritual and intellectual studies in Santa Cruz.
During the time of the friars and from the second half of the 16th century forward, the parochiality of Santa Cruz was exercised in the Church of St. João, a place which is currently called Santa Cruz Café.
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