Valença City Council buys property closed for seven years from Misericórdia

The building, now owned by the municipality, will be “a new space of centrality and urban qualification for the city, and its future use is being evaluated, with a focus on the areas of Culture and Innovation, among others”. As it is “vacant, the municipality’s absolute priority will be a general clean-up of the complex, guaranteeing its stabilisation and surrounding safety”, said the mayor of Valença, José Manuel Carpinteira.

Considered an “emblematic and iconic building” in Valença, the former Portuguese school “was born out of the will of a Valencian benefactor, Joaquim Apolinário da Fonseca, a neighbourhood man with a broad dedication to the social and economic life of the municipality”. The benefactor “left the Santa Casa da Misericórdia the funds to build the Fonseca Asylum, an asylum for destitute children. Construction began in 1910, but it wasn’t until 1928 that it was inaugurated”.

At the time, “Santa Casa da Misericórdia signed a loan agreement with the congregation of the Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, who remained in the building until September 1974, under the name of a Portuguese school”. Subsequently, the building served as a high school, cultural centre, secondary school, municipal library and finally the headquarters of ESCE. Since the school’s departure in 2016, the building has ceased to be used.

“Throughout its 95 years of existence, the building has been part of the history of many generations of Valencians and Portuguese who have passed through here on their journeys through life, especially academia,” the municipality emphasises.

For the municipality, the “history-filled building is a landmark of Valencia’s identity, deeply linked to the Ways of Fatima, and is an iconic reference because it was in this building that Sister Lucia handed over the third secret of Fatima to the bishop of Leiria and Fatima, and later forwarded it to the Vatican”.

The hexagonal building, with its extensive and unique volume of construction, including the tower of the zimbório and the chapel of Our Lady of Fatima, stands out for its grandeur to all those who pass by on Valença’s central avenues.

LUSA | 05 Dec 2023