Monastery of Saint Mary of Parral is a Roman Catholic monastery of the enclosed monks of the Order of Saint Jerome just outside the walls of Segovia. It was founded by King Henry IV of Castile, who acquired the lands before he became king in 1454. Despite a generally irreligious life, Henry IV maintained connections with the Hieronymites and was buried in the sister-house of Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe.
In the 16th century a mint was built near the monastery using the Eresma River to power the machinery. The monastery was closed as part of the secularisation program of 1835. Following a Papal Decree of 1925, the Hieronymite Order was re-established here in the following years and was finally granted its Rule in 1969.
There are some works of art in the monastery, for example a 16th-century retable in Renaissance style. However, it is perhaps better known for its association with works that have been removed. Following the closure of the monastery in the 1830s, some of its works of art were moved to Madrid where they were stored in a monastery at Atocha. In the 1870s they were moved again to the Royal Gallery of El Prado in Madrid, where they were stored with little further research until some greater investigation took place between 2000 and 2003.
One painting in particular, The Fountain of Grace (The Triumph of the Church over the Synagogue), has attracted interest because of its presumed connection to the artist Jan van Eyck. Listed in the Convent's Libero de Bercero (Vellum Book) as a gift of the King in 1454, it uses the same symbolic language and constructional forms as part of The Mystic Lamb polytych in St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium.
Theories regarding its attribution have included the idea that it was rushed copy of a lost original, originally commissioned by Pope Eugene IV for a chapel in Brussels, possibly undertaken by Jan van Eyck during a diplomatic mission he undertook to the Iberian Peninsulain the 1430s.References:
The Church of Our Lady before Týn is a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague and has been the main church of this part of the city since the 14th century. The church's towers are 80 m high and topped by four small spires.
In the 11th century, this area was occupied by a Romanesque church, which was built there for foreign merchants coming to the nearby Týn Courtyard. Later it was replaced by an early Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn in 1256. Construction of the present church began in the 14th century in the late Gothic style under the influence of Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler. By the beginning of the 15th century, construction was almost complete; only the towers, the gable and roof were missing. The church was controlled by Hussites for two centuries, including John of Rokycan, future archbishop of Prague, who became the church's vicar in 1427. The roof was completed in the 1450s, while the gable and northern tower were completed shortly thereafter during the reign of George of Poděbrady (1453–1471). His sculpture was placed on the gable, below a huge golden chalice, the symbol of the Hussites. The southern tower was not completed until 1511, under architect Matěj Rejsek.
After the lost Battle of White Mountain (1620) began the era of harsh recatholicisation (part of the Counter-Reformation). Consequently, the sculptures of 'heretic king' George of Poděbrady and the chalice were removed in 1626 and replaced by a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, with a giant halo made from by melting down the chalice. In 1679 the church was struck by lightning, and the subsequent fire heavily damaged the old vault, which was later replaced by a lower baroque vault.
Renovation works carried out in 1876–1895 were later reversed during extensive exterior renovation works in the years 1973–1995. Interior renovation is still in progress.
The northern portal is a wonderful example of Gothic sculpture from the Parler workshop, with a relief depicting the Crucifixion. The main entrance is located on the church's western face, through a narrow passage between the houses in front of the church.
The early baroque altarpiece has paintings by Karel Škréta from around 1649. The oldest pipe organ in Prague stands inside this church. The organ was built in 1673 by Heinrich Mundt and is one of the most representative 17th-century organs in Europe.