Sweetheart Abbey

24" X 30" - fiber - pieced and appliqued cotton; hand and machine quilted

In 1250, Devorguilla of Galloway was married to John Balliol (an ancient ancestor of mine). While this was an arranged marriage, the two apparently came to love each other deeply. When John died in 1269, his wife had his heart embalmed and placed in a silver and ivory reliquary - which she kept with her for the next 20 years! Inheriting the wealth and lands of both families, Lady Devorguilla became one of the richest women in Eurpoe. She used her wealth, among other things: to found Balliol College at Oxford; endow several priories; and pay for the construction of 2 Cistercian Abbeys. Sweetheart Abbey, south of Dumfires, Scotland, was not completed before Devorguilla died in 1289, but she is buried there with her beloved husband's heart - the "Sucre Coeur". The word, sweetheart, came into the English about this time, and it's nice to think that it may have its origins in this remarkable love story. Today, the abbey is in ruins, but the love story lives on.