A stamp of Ana Néri.
December 13, 1814|
Cachoeira de Paraguaçu, Bahia
|Died||May 20, 1880
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
|Other names||Anna Nery|
|Known for||Introduction of modern nursing in Brazil|
|Spouse(s)||Commander Isidoro Antônio Néri (1837-1843)|
|Children||Justiniano, Isidoro Antônio Filho, and Pedro Antônio|
Ana Justina Ferreira Néri (December 13, 1814 – May 20, 1880) was a Brazilian nurse, considered the first in her country. She is best known for her volunteer work with the Triple Alliance during the Paraguayan War.
Ana Néri was born in the Bahian village of Cachoeira de Paraguaçu to José Ferreira de Jesus and his wife, Luísa Maria das Virgens. At age 23, Ana got married to Navy Commander Isidoro Antônio Néri. With her husband always on duty, Ana accustomed to have their house under her responsibility. She became a widow at age 29, having to take care of their children Justiniano, Isidoro, and Pedro Antônio all by herself. Justiniano, and Isidoro became doctors, while Pedro Antônio joined the Army, becoming a cadet.
Work as a nurse
In 1865, Brazil joined the Triple Alliance in the Paraguayan War, and Ana's sons were all called upon duty, in addition to both her brothers, Manuel Jerônimo, and Joaquim Maurício. Unhappy with the fact that she would stay away from all the men in her family, she wrote a letter to Manuel Pinho de Sousa Dantas, governor of Bahia, offering to take care of injured soldiers of the Triple Alliance for the duration of the conflict.
Later that year, Ana left Bahia for the first time in her life, assisting the Army's health corps, which was small and had little material. She started working alongside Vincentian nuns in a hospital in Corrientes, where she would take care of more than 6,000 hospitalized soldiers. Not a long time later, she assisted the injured in Salto, Humaitá, Curupaiti, and Asunción.
A wealthy woman, Ana founded a nursing house in the Paraguayan capital, then occupied and besieged by the Brazilian Army. For that purpose, she used personal financial resources that she inherited from her family. She worked selflessly there until the end of the war. Her son Justiniano and a nephew which had enlisted as a volunteer, both died in battle.
At the end of the war, in 1870, Ana returned to Brazil and received several honors, among them the distinctions of silver and humanitarian campaign medals. Emperor Pedro II granted Ana, via decree, a lifelong pension, which she used to provide education for the four orphans that she had brought from Paraguay with her.
Death and homages
Ana died on May 20, 1880 in Rio de Janeiro. In 1926, Carlos Chagas named the first official Brazilian school of nursing after her. Her full-body portrait, painted by Victor Meirelles, currently occupies a place of honor at the Salvador City Hall. According to the federal law number 12.105, sanctioned by acting president José Alencar on December 2, 2009, Ana Néri is now a character of the Book of the Fatherland Heroes, and will have her name added in the Pantheon of the Fatherland and Freedom, a monument in Brasília consisting of a steel book designed by Oscar Niemeyer.