Soror Mariana Alcoforado

Mariana por Coster,1716In 1810, was published by the L’Empire (Parisian daily paper) written by the erudite Boissonade, who brought the so far unknown name of Mariana Alcoforado, under the limelight, as the authoress of the famous Lettres Portugaises, five love-letters, dedicated to the French gentleman Noel Bouton, Marquis de Chantilly.

Mariana Alcoforado was one of the religious nuns of the Order de Santa Clara, of Beja’s Convent, where at, present, the city’s Regional Museum is installed. Mariana Alcoforado was born in Beja on April 22nd.1640, and was cloistered at the age of 11 years, and subsequently made her first religious life profession at age 16. Gatekeeper, Clerk and Vicar (replacing the abbess in her absence, were some of her responsibilities during her long life in the Convent. She passed away on July 28th. 1723.

Marquês de ChamilyHer sublime passion where her not responded love-letters, which are kept to this day, and has brought the attention worldwide. Since its first edition by Claude Barbin, dated January 4th. 1669, with the title “Lettres Portugaises”, translated into French, and up until today, there have been hundreds of editions in different languages, poems, theater pieces, films, as well as plastic perfomances and musicals.

The Museum still preserves its large graded window, better known as Mertola’s Window of Mertola’s Gates, or of Mariana’s, true ex-libris, of the Convent, the Museum and the City where when through it, she saw walk by, the enchanting Marquis, who on one a special occasion caught a glimpse of her, and made her feel the effects of her unhappy passion.