The story starts in 1845, when Henriqueta was born. She started working in the brothel from her aunt when she was only 15 years old. She turned out to be very smart and sly, using techniques and tricks to get men to do what she wanted. She mastered the art of manipulation, and made wealthy men fall in love with her, using their money and leaving them afterwards. When Henriqueta was just 20 she made quite the fortune already, and she could afford to have her own house and live luxuriously. Quite contradictory are the accounts that claim that Henriqueta was very manly, often times cross-dressing. According to these claims people were very afraid when this imposing woman went on a horse ride through the city. Later on, Henriqueta got accused by writers of being a transsexual or a hermaphrodite. This might very well be a typical romantic exaggeration. According to the story, she came to detest her clients and men in general at one point. This might be the reason why, after a while, she fell in love with a woman. Her name was Teresa Maria de Jesus, a younger girl, and also a prostitute. It’s said that they were madly in love, even living together at one point. In 1868, Teresa died of tubercolosis. She was buried in the cemitery Prado do Repouso. Henriqueta was heartbroken and she wanted to give her friend a more fitting grave, so she used her fortune to buy a patch at the cemitery and order a statue of St. Francis made from the finest italian marble, which still stands watching over the grave of Teresa. When you come closer to the statue, you will see a very small portrait in profile hanging from his rosary. It’s rumored that this worn down detail depicts Henriqueta herself.
At the end of the year 1868 on a cold december evening, the mortal remains of Teresa Maria were exhumed and transferred to the new grave. Henriqueta asked the bystanders for a last private moment with the corpse of her beloved friend. When she was alone, she took the shaving knife she has been hiding inside her dress, and cut off the head of the corpse. She hid it in a bag and took it home after the ceremony. However, she wasn’t as subtle in covering her crime, as she cooked the head, wrapped it in cloth and kept the skull in a custom made reliquary shrine in her living room. She didn’t make any effort to hide it when people visited her, even bragging about it sometimes. This resulted in the police being informed, and before long Henriqueta was taken to court. Here she continued claiming that Teresa was her relative, but the word of them being lovers was already out at this point. What the judges believed is not known, but she was acquitted from all charges nonetheless, as it was seen as an act out of pure love. Even though Henriqueta had lived this luxurious live, she impoverished quite soon after all this went down. She spent a lot of her money on the expensive grave, and in 1874 she herself got buried in an unmarked grave, somewhere on Prado de Repouso cemitery as well. Nowadays, Henriqueta is seen as an early LGBTQ hero, and the grave of Teresa has become a place of pilgrimage for gay people. Teresa’s grave is more often than not decked out with fresh flowers and candles, commemorating this couple.