The São Brás Hermitage, located outside the walls of Rossio de São Brás, was built by D. João II, where there was already a small wooden temporary gafaria, erected to deal with the plague-stricken people that plagued the country in 1479-80. The people of Évora, the king and the executing bishop of the work, D. Garcia de Meneses, thus showed their devotion to St. Brás, who was usually prayed in an epidemic. The work, whose ecclesiastical leave dates from September 7, 1480, began in 1482, and the hermitage was already open to worship in 1490 (ESPANCA, Túlio, 1966). The monument, designed by an unknown master, is particularly innovative in the use of a Manueline-Mudéjar style typically Alentejo, with succession of staggered volumes, robust and crowned by merlons, and inaugurates in the city the use, later widely disseminated in monuments throughout the Alentejo, of architectural elements such as the cylindrical buttresses with conical corus-tries (PEREZ EMBID, Florentino, 1955, p.134). Together with the churches of Lóios and S. Francisco, this temple marks the introduction of the late Gothic in Évora.
Raised on a platform to overcome a difference in terrain, the hermitage has a main facade with open narthex in three large ogival arches resting on half columns of masonry with vegetal capitals, framed by powerful cylindrical turrets ameiados. In this portico there will be a mural decoration with the arms and pelican of D. João II, possibly lost in the successive works that the temple suffered (ESPANCA, Túlio, 1966). The body of the church, all whitewashed, has fourteen cylindrical buttresses, with the turrets of the porch, finished in a frieze of bevelled merlons, and all crowned by conical bowls. The head is a cubic body, extended laterally by the lower and very narrow volumes of the sacristias, also ameiadas, where cracks in gouges are torn. The hexagonal lantern stands on the main chapel, and on the northern top, lying on the sacristy, stands the steeple. Also note the succession of interesting granite gargoyles, zoomorphic theme, throughout the building.
Inside a single nave, covered by a perfect back vault, there are several geometric pattern tiles in green and white, still in the 16th century and Mudejar resonances; the 18th century gilded altars, one on each side of the nave, are dedicated to St. Roman and Our Lady of the Candeias. In the main chapel, the altarpiece also in gilded carving frames a wooden sculpture of the patron saint of the temple in a central building. The paintings are generally arcaizantes, of clear Flemish influence and only regional interest, dateable of the second half of five hundred, although they respect to two different contracts It is guarded in the Regional Museum of Évora part of the important stuffing of sacred goldsmithery, of silve, of the extinct Confraternity of São Brás. There is still some 18th century furnishings in the church premises, as well as a holy, renaissance marble water sink.
The temple was restored in 1573, financed by Cardinal-Infante D. Henrique, and basically consists of mural decorations on the walls and vaults of the nave and execution of the carving altarpiece, but the paintings (and several altars) were destroyed in 1663, on occasion of the bombing of the city by the Castilian troops, particularly disastrous for the hermitage to be in the defensive waist of the Rossio of São Brás. Although restoration work began immediately, the last vestiges of mural paintings disappeared in the late 19th and early 20th century town house reforms. Even today, some remains of a frieze of sgraffito, including Manueline emblems and geometric themes, can be seen along the upper top of the façade, now restored and painted again. SML