PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Voodoo chief Max Beauvoir has died in his homeland of Haiti, the place the combination of beliefs from West Africa and Catholicism is acknowledged as an official faith. He was 79.

A authorities assertion stated Beauvoir died Saturday in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince after an sickness. The reason for dying was not instantly recognized.

On his Twitter account, President Michel Martelly described Beauvoir’s dying as a “nice loss for the nation.”

Born in 1936, Beauvoir was a biochemical engineer who earned levels overseas and have become a Voodoo priest when he returned to his Caribbean homeland within the 1970s.

He turned Voodoo’s supreme chief, or nationwide “ati,” in 2008 and led Haiti’s principal clergymen’ group. Beauvoir was extensively often known as a passionate guardian of the Voodoo religion, which has typically been sensationalized and misunderstood.

Voodoo, or Vodou as most popular by Haitians, advanced within the 17th century when colonists introduced slaves to Haiti from West Africa. Slaves pressured to follow Catholicism adopted saints to coincide with African spirits. Followers consider in reincarnation, one God and a pantheon of spirits.

Lots of Haiti’s 10 million individuals think about themselves followers of each Voodoo and Catholicism.

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