The Pius XII Museum was founded in 1957 by Canon Luciano Afonso dos Santos, professor and Rector of the Conciliar Seminary of Braga, a priest passionate about archaeology and sacred art, who, besides educating seminarians and teaching, spent much of his time in excavations, and also preaching, visiting many parishes and archdioceses.
And so, he put together a vast collection of archaeology and religious art.
After a few years collecting items, he decided to display his findings in the building of the Conciliar Seminary of S. Pedro and S. Paulo, in Campo de Santiago. Paying tribute to the then Pope – 1957 – he called the exhibition space the ‘Pius XII Museum’.
There was a significant number of a wide variety of high-quality items: coins and medals, stones, ceramics, sculptures, paintings, goldsmithing pieces, liturgical ornaments…
In 1968, with plans for work to be done on the building, archaeological surveys in the cloister of the Seminary were carried out. The structures of a Roman building were found, more specifically, the hypocaust of a Roman house (fourth century).
In 1984, after a donation from artist Henrique Medina to the Archdiocese of Braga, the Medina Museum was founded, also located within the Conciliar Seminary building. Although it was initially created as an autonomous museum, it is currently integrated into the circuit of the Pius XII Museum, as an art gallery.
In 2002, the Museum underwent a major renovation, inaugurated on 5 December, the day of St. Gerald, patron saint of the Archdiocese, creating better exhibition conditions for its collection, in line with new trends in museology.
In this context, the Museum was entrusted with the Medieval Tower, or Tower of Santiago, or Our Lady of the Tower – a fortified, structure that was part of the medieval wall of Braga, which in the 18th century received an oratory in honour, precisely, of Our Lady of the Tower.
In 2021, it was enriched with a valuable goldsmithery collection.