Mafalda of Portugal
Lady of Arouca
D. Mafalda de Portugal, Rainha de Castela - The Portuguese Genealogy (Genealogia dos Reis de Portugal).png
Mafalda in Genealogy of the Kings of Portugal (António de Holanda, 1530–1534)
Queen consort of Castile
Bornc. 1195
Kingdom of Portugal
Died1 May 1256 (aged 61)
Rio Tinto, Gondomar, Kingdom of Portugal
(m. 1215; annulled 1216)
HousePortuguese House of Burgundy
FatherSancho I
MotherDulce of Aragon
ReligionCatholic Church

Mafada of Portugal, O.Cist
014 Arouca.jpg
Anonymous image of Mafada, depicting her dressed in her royal robes covered by a monastic cowl, bearing a crozier in her right hand, indicative of her position as an abbess, found in the gallery of Arouca Abbey (1740)
Venerated inCatholic Church
(Cistercian Order)
Beatified27 June 1792, Rome, Papal States by Pope Pius VI
Feast20 June

Infanta Mafalda of Portugal (also known as Blessed Mafalda, O.Cist. (c. 1195 – 1 May 1256 in Rio Tinto, Gondomar; Portuguese pronunciation: [mɐˈfaɫdɐ]) was a Portuguese infanta (princess), later Queen consort of Castile for a brief period. She was the second youngest daughter of King Sancho I of Portugal and Dulce of Aragon. Married briefly to the ten-year-old Henry I of Castile, she held for a time the title Queen of Castile.

Upon the dissolution of the marriage, Mafalda returned to her homeland. She chose to become a Cistercian nun, and became noted for the holiness of her life. She was declared Blessed by the Catholic Church five centuries after her death.


Early life

Mafalda of Portugal was born around 1195, the daughter of King Sancho I of Portugal and his queen, Dulce of Aragon.

On the death of her father, Mafalda, under the provisions of his will, was to receive the Seia Castle and the remaining portion of the municipality as well as all income produced there. Furthermore, she was granted the right to use the title of queen. This created a conflict with her brother Afonso II O Gordo, who, wanting a centralized power, hindered his sister from receiving the titles and the corresponding rights. Afonso feared that something similar could happen with his two sisters, Teresa and Sancha, and their eventual heirs, creating a problem of sovereignty that could come to divide the country. Much of the Portuguese nobles sided with Mafalda and her sisters, but they were defeated.[1] On the death of Afonso II, his son Sancho II granted some lands and castles to his aunts but he made them renounce the title of princess-queen. The final peace came in 1223.


In 1215, a political marriage was arranged between Mafalda and her young cousin Henry I of Castile. As he was about ten years old, the marriage was never consummated, and it was dissolved the following year on grounds of consanguinity.[2] She then returned to Portugal.

Altar of Our Lady of Silva, Porto
Altar of Our Lady of Silva, Porto

Monastic life

In 1220, Mafalda chose not to marry again and became a nun at the Abbey of Arouca, though she was granted a special dispensation to retain control of her inheritance. She became abbess of the community, then one of Benedictine nuns, and in 1226 had her request to transfer the abbey to the Cistercian Order granted by the pope. She had a great devotion to Our Lady of Silva and made substantial donations to the shrine. She also had a hospice for travelers built as well as a number of bridges, churches, monasteries, and hospitals.[3] She helped to establish her own abbey as a major religious center in the region for centuries.

Returning from a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Silva, she fell ill at Rio Tinto, Gondomar, and died at the monastery of Cistercians monks there on 1 May 1256. In 1616, wanting to return her body to Arouca as part of the process of her possible canonization, it was found not to have deteriorated, which generated a strong devotion to the Portuguese princess. She was beatified in 1792 by Pope Pius VI. Her feast day is celebrated on June 20, together with her two sisters.[4]



  1. ^ McMurdo, Edward. The History of Portugal: From the Commencement of the Monarchy to the Reign of Alfonso III, S. Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1888
  2. ^ A History of Portugal, CUP Archive
  3. ^ Merton, Thomas. In the Valley of Wormwood, Liturgical Press, 2013, ISBN 9780879077587
  4. ^ "Santos do Dia: Beata Mafalda". Evangelho Quotidiano. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
Royal titles Preceded byLeonora of England Queen consort of Castile 1215–1216 Succeeded byBeatriz of Swabia