Maria Escolástica da Conceição Nazareth was one of the most important mães de santo (iyalorixá or priestess of orixá) of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé. She was born in Salvador, BA in 1894 and for 64 years, she led the Candomblé house Ilé Ìyá Omi Àse Ìyámasé, located in Salvador in the neighborhood of Gantois. Mãe Menininha do Gantois, as she was called, became nationally known and well-respected for her kindness and affection. Her fight for the legalization of the office based religion and the consequent integration of religion in national society also made her respected by all. At the time that she inherited the position of mãe de santo at a young age, it was not easy to lead a terreiro (Candomblé house of worship) due to the persecution the religion suffered by the authorities in those days. Menininha, however, promoted the value of the religion and its integration into local society, obtaining the license to worship the orixás in 1930. Mãe Menininha died in 1986 at age 92. Her funeral was one of the greatest processions in Bahia. All mourned the death of one of the most beloved women of Brazil. Iba e Mãe Menininha!
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