Who Is Kimpa Vita?

Kimpa Vita, also known as Dona Beatriz (1684–1706), was a phenomenal leader and prophet who changed the face of Christianity. Kimpa Vita was born near Mount Kibangu in the Kongo Kingdom.

She was born into a family of the Kongo nobility, as Kongo had been a Catholic kingdom for two centuries before her birth.

She created an indigenous African christian movement, Antonianism, which taught that Jesus and other early Christian figures were from the Kongo Kingdom. She placed the birth of Jesus Christ within the Kongo and identified the city of M’banza-Kongo (called Sao Salvador by Portuguese) as the new Bethlehem claiming that God wanted it restored as the capital of the Kingdom. She is sometimes credited with sparking a spiritual awakening in the Kongo.

Kimpa Vita incorporated Christianity with traditional beliefs to articulate a message of redemption for the people of the Kongo. Her movement sought to resist foreign domination and restore the political and spiritual greatness of the Kongo Kingdom. Her teaching caused her to upbraid the Portuguese Catholic priests living in the Kongo Kingdom for not believing as she did. This threatened the influence of the Catholic Church amongst the Kongolese people.

On July 2, 1706, Kimpa Vita was captured near her hometown and burned at the stake with her baby (in some accounts) in Evululu. She was tried under Kongo law as a witch and a heretic, with the consent and counsel of the Capuchin friars Bernardo da Gallo and Lorenzo da Lucca. She died when she was 21.

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