The Secretariado Nacional para os Bens Culturais da Igreja (National Secretariate for the Cultural Assets of the Church) has developed an online inventory to register the sacred art objects stolen in Portugal.
Still on an early stage, the database online permits the searching of objects through keywords.
The SNBCI requests the collaboration of those who possess images of stolen items, previously taken in religious ceremonies or processions, to make them available for the inventory, since many of the stolen items are missing an image in the database.
Portugal has a rich patrimony of sacred art and its churches, with particular focus on samll villages, have been victims of theft. In the last 5 years, near 500 sacred art objects have been stolen in Portugal.
With this new tool, it is expected a more interactive collaboration between the Church, the authorities and the population, in order to solve a serious problem.
While there is a considerable legal market for the transaction of paintings and other art objects, namely through auction houses, the market of sacred art objects is reduced and thus the appearance of this items for sale should always be looked with suspicion.