The Life of Maria Marques Vieira, the Maria Damião.
By Rodrigo Borges Conti Tavares [1]
English review by Moonvine
 

 
The Life of Maria Marques Vieira, the Maria Damião

The Juramidam Family, April 13th of 2009

Maria Damião -- when I first thought of writing about this icon of the doctrine and holder of a hinário venerated by all, I thought it would be a difficult task, impossible even.

But it was with humility that I held to my original intention, through force of necessity and feeling that it was important for the doctrine. Because many questions have always surrounded Maria Marques Vieira, and in the past she was always wrapped up in a mantle of mystery and obscurity. For many people there was a contradiction between singing her hinário and reading or listening to what was said about her.

Perhaps the most cited phrase of all was that she was a forlorn sister, living sick and through difficulties in her life, in the works of Irineu Serra's mission, and often being abandoned by her own spiritual community. But the fact is that the accounts coming from people who knew her tell us otherwise.

I am a son of my Mother
And She embraces those who accompany me
I say with firmness
That my Mother doesn't abandon me

In the last few years I have been planning without success to travel to Acre, especially to talk to the elders and seek information about Mestre and the Companions (Germano Guilherme, Antônio Gomes, João Pereira and Maria Damião). It saddens me the fact that, of these pioneers, whose hymnbooks were made the official ones of the doctrine by Mestre Irineu (together with his), little is known or was written. Lacking the conditions to travel, I am resorting to the goodwill of those who have access to the information that we do not have. It so happens that the fraternity never fails, and little by little I started to gather enough material and support to carry on with this project.

The story of my writing this text began a few months ago when Teófilo Maia wrote me an e-mail expressing some doubts regarding a famous photo from the history of the doctrine -- of the community gathered in Vila Ivonete -- and published by Eduardo Bayer. Teófilo Maia thought that the girl in the photo could be Maria Damião due to her thin, small figure. He also knew that the girl in the blue dress was Laura Vieira, daughter of Maria Damião. That alone gave us something to wonder about because we still don't know of a photo where Maria Damião is present.

Further on in my research, as I read these words of Eduardo Bayer about the state of abandonment of some members from families of prominent figures in the doctrine, my wish to find a photo of Maria Damião felt superficial in comparison, even childish on my part. He puts it this way: 



We previously knew that Maria Marques Vieira was born in Belém do Pará, on November 4th of 1910*, and was still very young when she moved with her family to Rio Branco, Acre, where in 1931 she came to know Mestre Raimundo Irineu Serra. Maria Damião, as she became known -- due to her husband’s name -- was of short height, white and blond. She married, had seven children (including one adopted nephew), losing her husband soon after.

*According to research made by Mivan Gedeon, where the date is written on the grave of Maria Damião.

She dedicated herself, besides the doctrine, to working the land. “She planted, plowed and harvested the daily bread that helped to raise her children”, relates Mrs. Percília Matos, who was a great friend of hers.  
 
According to José Francisco das Neves Junior (known as “Counselor Zé das Neves”),


Jairo da Silva Carioca also narrates,

From the recently published book, "Eu Venho de Longe", by Paulo Moreira and Edward MacRae, we learn a little more about her life and her children.



Maria Damião died on April the 2nd of 1949*, at the age of 38. After her death, the hinário “O Mensageiro” proceeded to be cared for affectionately by Percília Matos, the archivist of the hinarios of the doctrine. Luiz Carlos Teixeira de Freitas tells us,


*According to her eldest son, Raimundo Damião, who at the time of her death was almost 18 years old.
 
Going back to my e-mail exchange with Teófilo Maia, we encouraged each other to seek more, which is what he did -- being at that time in Alto Santo -- talking to Mrs. Adália, Mrs. Cecília (known as Vó Preta), Paulo Serra (Mestre's adoptive son), seu Fred (an old man that he met in the colonist's market), Valdirene (daughter of Paulo Serra and granddaughter of Mestre) and her spouse Carlinhos, and others. And the information started to arrive. The woman in question in the photo was Mrs. Bibi, the sister of Mrs. Percília Matos. The girl next to Laura Vieira was Mrs. Adália Gomes herself, being very close to the Damião family. In this search, Mrs. Adália even recognized Damião Marques, husband of Maria Damião. Mrs. Cecília affirms that Maria Damião was present on that occasion when the photo was taken, but did not appear in it.

Mestre and the first followers, Vila Ivonete

Teófilo tells us about her life, her condition and routine, this way,



Raimundo Irineu Serra and the first followers settled in the Vila Ivonete, in 1931, giving birth to the initial works of the Santo Daime doctrine and later on, in 1945, opened a new path on the grounds of Alto Santo, but Maria Damião always lived where the old district of Alberto Tôrres is located. As Mr. Luiz Mendes relates:

It is in this initial process of building that the first hinário of the doctrine was sung in the house of the Damião family, as tells Mrs. Percília Matos da Silva in the video Lua Branca:

Father of heaven of the heart
Who today on this day
Was who gave our bread
Thanks to mom

Mother of heaven of the heart

Who today on this day
Was who gave our bread
Praised be God



Luiz Carlos Teixeira explains to us a little about the reality surrounding the doctrine in the decades after the settling of the first followers which helps us to understand about the oft-referred to quality of Maria Damião being a forlorn sister.



For many who know her hinário, it has become a symbol of justice and recognition of the human struggle on earth. We also should not disregard the fact that the remembrance of the first followers is often filled with the spirit of the northeasterners, strong people who resiliently faced the many diversities of life with courage and faith. It is not by chance that they are often called “pioneers”. Today, with the works already established, it is difficult to understand how much they gave us when first accompanying Mestre Irineu in the opening of his mission.

I slacken things by an inch
The people are already going to scream
Rescue me, my Eternal Father
Master, I'm going to die



Assisted by another personal account, we can understand many of the passages lived in the doctrine, as is told to us by Mr. Luiz Mendes, 


Also writing to Débora Gabrich -- veteran researcher of the doctrine and the feminine leader of CICLUMIG -- I had an important confirmation, indeed a moving one, where she tells us about the mutual respect existing between Mestre and Maria Damião.



About her passage, Maria Damião died suddenly, working with masonry, supposedly of an aneurism.



Regarding the situation of the family after the death of Maria Damião, the book "Eu Venho de Longe", by Paulo Moreira and Edward MacRae, tells more:


About the children of Maria Damião, it is known that Laura Vieira married the son of Manoel Belém, known as “Tronquinho”. Laura Vieira's siblings accompanied the new couple in this union. Years later, in the 50s, Manoel Belém left the work of Irineu Serra and with him went his son and Laura Vieira, his wife, and her siblings. Some time later Laura Vieira separated from Tronquinho. Despite the changes, Mrs. Matilde, Laura Vieira’s surviving sister, remains today at the same place. Raimundo and Valdir, sons of Maria Damião, are also still alive.

Teófilo recounts, concerning the memory of Maria Damião:




Therefore, here is surrendered this small homage to the one who was always a fortress of the doctrine: Maria Marques Vieira, one of the four known “companions” of Mestre and who with him, Germano Guilherme, Antônio Gomes and João Pereira gave us the ABC of this doctrine.

Your little house is ready
Your paths are open
A garden of flowers
Is offered to you

Jesus Christ the Savior
And the Queen of the Forest
If Thou thinkest I am worthy
Receive me oh honest Mother

In my listening I heard
A great celebration
My brothers arriving
And my body liquefying

I corrected my thought
I asked for pardon from my Father
So that I would be able to follow
My happy journey

The Master who teaches us
Thou art my guide
Thou takest me to the Divine
And to the Ever Virgin Mother

Alto Santo

***

 

[1] Rodrigo Borges Conti Tavares has a degree in Visual Communication at UFRJ and is the creator and maintainer of the website The Juramidam Family, which is dedicated to the doctrine studies, especially the roots.

[2] Eduardo Bayer Neto is a writer, video-documentary producer and forest engineer. He is also employee of the Elias Mansour Foundation, of the Acre state and envisioner of the Ayahuasca Virtual Museum project - of which the cyber magazine Arca da União (Union Ark) is an integral part.

[3] José Francisco das Neves Junior.

[4] Personal Account of Jairo da Silva Carioca, published in the website mestreirineu.org.

[5] Luiz Carlos de Carvalho Teixeira de Freitas is a journalist, psychologist and writer. He is a student of Jungian and transpersonal psychology and of comparative religions. Also, he is the founder and adviser of the Beneficent Association Santo Antonio de Pádua, the organization that is the keeper of the Casa de Oração Sete Estrelas, in Cotia, São Paulo state.

[6] Teófilo Maia is a fardado living in Céu do Mapiá, who conducted this research while in Alto Santo, in the center of Mrs. Valdirene who is the daughter of Mr. Paulo Serra (Mestre’s adopted son).

[7] Recorded interview with Mr. Luiz Mendes do Nascimento on January 8th of 2007, in his house in Vila Fortaleza, State of Acre, during the VI Encounter for the New Horizon. This interview belongs to the patrimony of CEFLI, and its use for any means should be authorized and accredited.

[8] Débora de Carvalho Pereira Gabrich is the co-leader of the Centro de Iluminação Cristão Luz Universal de Minas Gerais – CICLUMIG. She has a Master's degree in Rural Extension by the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV) – MG and is a founding member of the Nucleolus of Studies Pro Amazon of the UFV. Since 1996 she has carried out research in Acre about the cultural and religious tradition of the Santo Daime; specifically in the centers of the lineage designated as “Alto Santo”, whose ritual has been adopted by CICLUMIG.

[9] From the book "Eu Venho de Longe", by Paulo Moreira and Edward MacRae / EDUFBA, Salvador, Bahia - 2011