Before August 1620, Giacometta Beccarino - born in Manfredonia (near Foggia, in southern Italy), who was about 10 at that time - was living in a convent dedicated to Santa Chiara located in her birth town and studying to become a catholic nun herself when older. She was very beautiful and quite noticeable among her peers, especially in a nunnery.

Her fate suddenly changed when the Turks arrived with 55 galleys and 6,000 soldiers and first sieged then destroyed the town of Manfredonia under the command of Capitan Pasha: she was readily kidnapped to be sold as a slave in the Ottoman Empire. As she was particularly beautiful, she was sent as a gift to the Emperor himself and sent to the harem held in Topkapi Palace, Istanbul.

We can only guess what happened while living in the harem, but somehow she managed to survive, changed her name to Saphira, was converted to Islam and became so skilled in the arts of love to be the official first wife of Emperor Ibrahim the Madman.

On September 28, 1644 her fate turned again: she was sailing to Mecca with her young baby Osman, son of the Emperor, when her ship was attacked by the Knights of Malta and them both were taken to the headquarters in Malta. Here she was pressed to covert again to christianity but fiercely refused, and died in Malta on January 6th, 1645, officially for being poisoned.

Her son Osman was instead converted to christianity after the death of his mother - he was just a baby anyhow - and then became a friar under the name of Domenico Ottomano. He died in Malta in 1676, during a pestilence.

As a last will of Osman, a painting of his mother Giacometta was donated to her hometown, where it is still visible in the Mayor's office.


A copy of the painting of Giacometta in her Ottoman dress is visible at the URL http://utenti.lycos.it/imagegap/hpbimg/beccarino.jpg

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