Based on oral tradition and translated from a Brazilian website Worshipped in Brazil as a saint and heroine, Anastacia is considered one of the most important woman in black history within the culture of Rio de Janeiro.
Anastacia’s birth is linked to the tale of Delminda. Some say Delminda was from the Bantu tribe (originating in about 2,000 B.C.E. in southern Nigeria and Cameroon), a daughter of the royal family of Galanga brought to Brazil in 1740 with a cargo of 112 slaves. One version of the story is as follows. Delminda was extremely pretty. She was sold in the harbour by Antonio Rodrigues Velho. She had been raped by a white man and was sold pregnant to Joaquina Pompeu. Delminda gave birth that same year on the 5th March to the blue eyed Anastacia. She was the first black girl with blue eyes in Brazil. It is at this point the two stories seem to merge. Whether or not she was separated from her mother or remained with Delminda, all seem to agree on what comes next. As she grew up Anasatcia became the obsession of the owner’s son, Joaquin Antonio.
Very beautiful, it is said that all the white women around were jealous of her, so encouraged Joaquin to make her wear the slave mask. As a punishment for repeatedly refusing his advances, he raped her and condemned her to wear the iron mask for the rest of her life, only removing it once a day to eat. She lived for some years before the toxicity of the metal from the mask became poisonous.
Some accounts claim she was performing miracles toward the end of her life. It became gossip amongst the poor that she could heal because she had found it in her heart to forgive the torture she had suffered, and that she even healed her owner’s son of some disease. At that moment she became a saint for many of the poor.
Some continue today petitioning Rome, to have her canonized as St. Anastacia of Rio. There is a statue and a place of worship in Vas Lobo, where pilgrims flock to worship her. She has more than twenty-eight million followers, though I was surprised to find that most of the Brazilian’s I have met have never heard of her.
She is exclusive to the poor of Rio and the descendants of slaves.