Maria Gomes da Silva was born in Carangola, Minas Gerais, Brazil and lived there her entire life. In 1913, she married João Valentim, who died in 1946. Valentim had 1 child, a son, who died at 75, and furthermore had 4 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren and 5 great-great-grandchildren. She used a wheelchair and was cared for by her granddaughter. She died of multiple organ failure on 21 June 2011, at the age of 114 years 347 days; 18 days shy of her 115th birthday.
On 4 November 2010, Eugénie Blanchard died. Valentim, aged 114 years 118 days, became the oldest living person in the world. Prior to Valentim's validation as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records, it was thought that Eunice Sanborn, then Besse Cooper, had been the oldest living people since the death of Blanchard.
On 18 May 2011, Maria Gomes Valentim, aged 114 years 313 days, became the oldest verified living person.