The church and churchyard of one of the most emblematic buildings in Bragança were in debt to a contractor and was auctioned online with a base value of €137,000.

The auctioned church and churchyard belong to the Franciscan Third Order, an organisation of lay people, and are part of the São Francisco convent, the latter currently under direct state administration, where the Bragança District Archive is located.

The medieval building, dating from the 13th century, located next to the Bragança castle, was once a convent, military hospital and asylum.

The financial difficulties of the order that owns the place of worship have been known for about 30 years, when restoration works began to be carried out with support from the State, through bodies and programmes linked to culture, and from the Bragança Chamber.

A contract debt is at the origin of the legal process that led to the auction of the largest church in the city of Bragança and where great religious events were once held.

A representative of the Franciscan Third Order announced that he will provide clarification on the process that led to the auction reported by Lusa on Monday.

The mayor of Bragança, Hernâni Dias, said that “the municipality is monitoring the process” and that “the availability goes to the point of preventing the property from passing into the hands of a private person”.

According to the publications that have been made about the monument, the church of São Francisco has one of the richest collections of religious art and the restorations that have been carried out in recent years.

The medieval frescoes on the inside of the vault and sprinkled around the temple are also distinctive elements of this property.