March 2, 2021

A chest appears with the key to the Calderón de la Barca funeral chest


Statue to Calderón de la Barca in Madrid.

Statue to Calderón de la Barca in Madrid.
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The descendants of Calderón de la Barca have temporarily transferred a chest with the key to the playwright’s funeral casket to the team of researchers from CEU USP who are looking for the remains of the playwright, as reported by the CEU San Pablo University.

It is an elegant twenty-three centimeter noble wood casket crowned with the cross of the Order of Santiago -to which Calderón belonged-, and with some almost illegible side inscriptions that allude to the first transfer of the remains.

For two years, a multidisciplinary group of researchers, headed by Professor Pablo Sánchez Garrido searches for the remains of Calderón de la Barca. An extensive research project with two main aspects: one, historical-humanistic and the other, technological.

In the historical plane of this investigation, outside the church in which the remains have been searched since last month, the finding the casket with the key that opens the funeral ark of Calderón.

According to the CEU USP professor and director of the investigation, Pablo Sánchez Garrido, this chest was given to the Calderón de la Barca family during one of the solemn acts of exhumation and transfer of the remains. The research data indicate that it was probably made for the first of the six transfers, in 1841.

Made with the same materials as the urn being searched, made of wood and bronze, on one side, some practically illegible inscriptions allude to the first transfer of the remains. Its owner is the current Countess of Assault, Teresa Morenés and Urquijo, which has loaned it to the CEU USP scientific team for their research, in the course of whose analysis the lateral inscription will be completely deciphered using ultraviolet light.

In several of the exhumations of Calderón’s remains, a Count of Asalto was present, as the official representative of the descendants of the famous writer. The existence of this chest with the 19th century key the project manager was aware.

However, the chest and key had been stolen from the family during the Civil War. It also included his claim by the family in 1939 to the Historical Heritage Defense Service. But until now his photograph had never been released, nor was there any graphic documentation of the urn or the key.

In addition, a new portrait of Calderón de la Barca has also appeared, whose authentic effigy has been the subject of scientific debate for a century.

The director of the investigation has indicated that the painting is still in the process of identification and dating. The portrait, until now unknown to Calderón’s critics, is also the property of Calderón’s descendants. It was also stolen during the Civil War and returned to its owners in 1939, along with the urn.

Search for the remains

For its part, the technological phase of the project to search for the remains of Calderón undertaken by the CEU San Pablo University continues to advance. Since the beginning of this phase on December 17, a good part of the walls of the Madrilenian church of Our Lady of Sorrows -first search area-.

The works have detected some significant points that will require the subsequent intervention of the archaeological team to open and verify. Currently some of the material is still being processed provided by the georadar search carried out by Luis Avial.

However, technological research has been paralyzed both by the storm ‘Filomena’ As the COVID-19, which postpones access to certain areas of the church common to a nursing home and the Congregation of San Pedro, owner of the property.

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