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John Burdick

semi-mythical Brazilian folk saint, is placed by oral and written legends as living either in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Although officially unrecognized by the Catholic Church, in the late twentieth century she became a widely revered object of spiritual devotion throughout Brazil. The broadly disseminated graphic image of a woman of African descent, sometimes pictured with blue eyes, tortured by an iron face mask and heavy iron collar, is today regarded by millions of Brazilians as a realistic likeness of the popular saint.

In 1968 as part of an exhibit dedicated to the history of slavery the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Brotherhood of Blacks in downtown Rio de Janeiro featured an image of a female slave wearing a face mask A cluster of women who saw the image at the time concluded it ...

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Enrico Ille

freed slave and Roman Catholic saint in Sudan, was born in the Darfur region near Agilerei Mountain, northeast of Nyala. Her father was a wealthy Daju (black African Muslim) who owned numerous cattle and a farm cultivated by servants. She had three brothers and four sisters, one of whom was kidnapped into slavery around 1874. Around 1876, Bakhita, which means “fortunate” in Arabic and is not her original name, was herself taken by slave traders; and after a failed attempt to escape, she was bought by a merchant in al-Ubayyid, where she served his two daughters. She was subsequently purchased around 1879 by an Ottoman army officer, who moved with his household to Khartoum in 1882 In this family she was treated brutally with whipping and scarification but several months afterward she was acquired by an Italian consular agent Callisto Legnani When he was forced by political ...

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Manuel Benavides Barquero

also known as “La Negrita” (The Little Black Lady), became the patron saint of Costa Rica in the early nineteenth century. In physical form, La Virgen is a small statue almost 6 inches tall and made of a dark granite, a representation of the Christian religion’s Virgin Mary. This black Madonna cradles an infant Jesus. The first written record of La Virgen’s existence appeared in 1629 in the Puebla de los Pardos (Colored or Brown Town) on the outskirts of the Spanish colonial city of Cartago (now in Costa Rica). Tradition states that she was found by an Indian girl, but it was the free black community that first embraced her as their protector and that in 1662 would rename their community “Puebla de la Reina de los Angeles” (Queen of Los Angeles Town).

Her presence among this ethnic group played a key role in forming the identity and defending ...