Miracle of Roses
A blissful nectar that evokes sanctified smells and the emotions of kindness. One day, while looking for inspiration for my fragrance creations and curatorial activity, I stumbled across a statue the Sacred Art Museum of Funchal. It was a sculpture of St Elizabeth Queen of Portugal. And she made me travel in time and scent, through a series of episodes in her life that are deeply connected to fragrant materials and smells of the sanctified.
Elizabeth was born in Zaragoza, Spain in 1271, she was the daughter of Peter III of Aragon and was married off to King Denis of Portugal in 1282. Throughout her life, Elizabeth demonstrated a great compassion to the poor and legend says she would leave the palace in disguise, in order to take food for the less fortunate.
The Miracle of Roses happens one day when the king discovered that Elizabeth was leaving the palace to take food to the poor. This is something that the queen had been forbidden to do. The king had threatened to lock her up and she was to never leave the palace again if the disobeyed. Despite this, the Queen never stopped feeding the poor and every day she would leave the palace and help her people.
One winter day, Elizabeth left the palace carrying pieces of bread hidden in her dress. As the King saw her going out, he asked, “What you are carrying?” She answered, “Roses, my lord.” As it was winter and roses were nowhere to be found at the time and in that cold weather, he demanded her to show him what she was carrying. When the queen unfolded her dress, roes fell on the floor.
The transformation of bread into roses is a miracle attributed to St Elizabeth of Portugal, a woman that set an example for devotion to God and kindness to her people. After the death of her husband in 1325, she entered the Santa Clara a Velha Monastery in Coimbra where she lived until 1336, when she passed. Pope Urban VIII canonized her in 1625.
In the life of Saint Elizabeth, there are several stories, legends and miracles connected to fragrant subjects and Miracle of Roses is the first chapter of my project around this historical character. The first part is a fragrance I developed with the scents of bread and roses, but also adding “sanctified smells” such as milk, conventual materials like iris and the mystical properties of sandalwood.