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Joana Angélica de Jesús


Brazilian nun, heroine of Independence; b. Salvador, Bahía, Dec. 11, 1761; d. there, Feb. 20, 1822. She was the daughter of José Tavares de Almeida and Caetana Maria de Silva, both Bahians of Portuguese ancestry. In 1782 she entered the Conceptionist Franciscan convent of Lapa in her native city. She made her profession as one of the Reformed Nuns of Our Lady of Conception on May 18, 1783. She held the positions of clerk (1797), vicar (1812), and, finally, abbess (1817), a post to which she returned in 1821. She was exercising her duties as abbess when the struggle broke out in the city between the Portuguese troops, under the command of General Madeira de Melo, and the Brazilians, led by Brigadier Freitas Guimaras. The fighting moved from street to street. On Feb. 20, 1822, the Portuguese soldiers, convinced that Brazilian soldiers were using the tower of the convent of Lapa as a vantage point from which to shoot at the Portuguese, decided to invade it. The abbess opposed this bravely; she appeared in the door of the cloister, impeding the entrance of the invaders and exclaiming: "Go back, bandits! Respect the house of the Lord. Before carrying out your infamous plan, you will pass over my dead body." She was not able to deter the fury of the soldiers, who forced their entrance by means of bayonets and killed the abbess. The chaplain of the convent, Daniel Nunes da Silva, who also tried to oppose the entry, suffered a number of wounds but survived. Nothing was found in the convent to justify the violence.

Bibliography: b. j. de souza, Joanna Angélica: A primeira heroína da independência do Brasil (Bahia 1922). a. l. de souza, Bahianos ilustres, 15641925 (Salvador 1949).

[a. j. lacombe]

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