You might have observed the iconic picture of this masked female but most likely not have been equipped to locate the story behind it.
She’s known as Escrava Anastacia, an enslaved African female who lived in Brazil in the 19th century.
Noted for possessing awesome beauty accompanied by her piercing eyes that are blue, Anastasia was worshipped in Brazil as a saint as well as a heroine, based on the culture and folklore of Rio de Janeiro.
She’s since achieved a cult following, especially with the descendants of slaves as well as the very poor in Brazil.
But just how did the masked woman start to be such an important figure in the history and culture of Rio de Janeiro?
The story of her life varies, but the most popular one is connected to Delminda, a black colored female from the Bantu ethnic group, that was a child of the royal family members of Galanga brought to Brazil in 1740 with a cargo of 112 enslaved Africans.
Delminda was raped by her white owner of her and was traded to Joaquina Pompeu while she was pregnant with Anastacia.
Delminda gave birth to Anastasia on March 5, close to the first half of the 19th century. She was among the first black female slaves born with blue eyes.
Anastacia grew up to be extremely gorgeous, with numerous admirers on the plantation. Her owner’s son, Joaquin Antonio actually got obsessed with her.
The white females ultimately became jealous of her and convinced Joaquin to make her wear the slave mask.
Because Anastasia was declining the advances of Joaquin, he raped her and also made her use the iron mask for the rest of her life as a kind of punishment.
She was pressured to live with the mask, just removing it once in a day to eat.
She lived for a few years and was subjected to many forms of inhumane treatments before the metal in the mask started to become poisonous, infecting her with tetanus that led to her death.
Legend states that just before she died, she forgave her owners for torturing her. She was believed to have had some miraculous healing powers and had even healed her owner’s son of a major disease.
Her proprietor renounced her slave status after she died. She was buried in a slave cemetery in Rio and her remains had been stored in the Church of Rosario. Her remains, nonetheless, got lost in a fire outbreak.
She turned into a saint to many who recognize her as a sign of forgiveness and love. There’s a sculpture as well as place of worship within Vas Lobo, Rio, in which people flock to worship her.
Others have since petitioned Rome to get her canonized as St. Anastacia of Rome.