The 19th century witnessed numerous ugly events of the blacks, one which wasn’t all recorded. Despite this ugly life, enslaved blacks managed to adapt to cruelty, ensuring their children lived an enviable life. Howbeit, beauty was obvious amongst these slaves, even as they were deformed from mal-nourishment.
Escrava Anastacia was referred to a goddess in Brazil in the 19th century. The fascinating part of her story is that she was one of the first black female slaves to be born with blue eyes.
Known for possessing great beauty which was complemented with her piercing blue eyes, Anastasia was an enslaved African woman who was worshipped in Brazil as a saint and heroine – according to folklore and culture of Rio de Janeiro.
It was reported that after her death, she gained a cult following, particularly, among the descendants of slaves and the poor in Brazil.
The intriguing side of her story was how a masked woman emerged as an influential figure in black history within the culture of Rio de Janeiro.
Although several stories of Anastasia have been told. Nevertheless, the one linked to Delminda, a black woman from the Bantu tribe (originating in about 2,000 B.C.E. in southern Nigeria and Cameroon), who was a daughter of the royal family of Galanga brought to Brazil in 1740 through a cargo of 112 slaves, has been the accepted one.
Interestingly, Anastasia was conceived through rape. Delminda, her mother was raped by her white owner and was sold to Joaquina Pompeu while she was pregnant with Anastacia.
Around the first half of the 19th century on March 5th, Delminda gave birth to Anastasia. Her mother, nurtured her to be extremely beautiful, with many always admiring her on the plantation. Her owner’s son, Joaquin Antonio even got obsessed with her beauty.
The white woman living under the roof of her master eventually became envious of her and convinced Joaquin to make her wear the slave mask.
With history repeating itself, Anastasia refused advances from Joaquin. Being her owner, he raped her and made her wear the iron mask for the rest of her life as a form of punishment.
She was forced to live with the mask, only allowed to remove it once a day to eat.
She lived for some years and was subjected to several other inhumane treatments before the metal from the mask turned poisonous. History has it that she died of tetanus.
History recorded that prior to her death, she publicly forgave her owners for the torture she received from them. More so, Anastasia was said to have had some magical healing powers and even healed her owner’s son of a serious disease.
When Joaquina passed away. She was buried in a slave cemetery in Rio and her ashes were kept in the Church of Rosario. However, her ashes got lost during a fire outbreak.
Anastasia became a saint to many who pictured her as a symbol of love and forgiveness. There is a statue and place of worship in Vas Lobo, Rio, where her flock gather to worship her.
Meanwhile, there have since being several petitions to Rome to have her canonized as St. Anastacia of Rome.