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Tradition links this church with the journey of Saint Francis of Assisi to Oviedo in 1214 when he returned from his pilgrimage to Santiago. According to this tradition, the saint himself laid down the first foundation here. It is possible that a small Franciscan community existed here as early as the 13th century, but by the 14th century only the church survived; the rest of the convent buildings were probably lost because it was a small community and because of its mendicant character, which limited its resources. If this were the case, the Franciscan foundation that took place later, in 1457, would have been a refoundation.
One of the early dedications of this community was the care of pilgrims. However, in 1472, a lawsuit took place whereby the church passed to the chapter of Lugo, which meant the end of its link to the Franciscan Order.
As a reflection of these circumstances, the church of Vilabade shows very prominent Gothic elements, but also other styles arising from the transformations of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries that gave it its current appearance. The porticoed façade of the church denotes a neoclassical intervention, while if we look at the interior façade and the southern façade, we will find abundant medieval elements. Thus, the neoclassical portico introduces us to a Gothic splayed doorway of great beauty. Inside, among elements with undoubtedly Gothic influence, the 16th-century altar and the 18th-century high altarpiece stand out, the latter being the work of the Compostela-born painter of religious images Francisco Lens, which possesses the typical characteristics of the so-called Compostelan baroque. It also has two beautiful 17th-century side altarpieces, set under medieval arches. Some interesting frescoes are difficult to assign due to their deterioration.
This church possesses a singular beauty, which has earned it the nickname of the cathedral of Castroverde. It was declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument in 1979 and is currently recognised as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC).
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