Saint Josephine Bakhita
Born: Sudan, ~1869
Died: Italy, 1947
Feast Day: February 8
St. Josephine Bakhita was a Sudanese woman from the Daju people who, from ages 7 to 12, was held in slavery alternately by Turkish Muslims and Italian Christians in the late 19th century. She experienced severe physical torture from her Turkish owner. Though she was not physically abused by her Italian owners, they continued to hold her in bondage in Italy, despite Italian law never giving legal status to slavery.
During a brief stay with the Canossian Sisters in 1888, she was introduced to Christianity and felt called to conversion. When her owners attempted to force her to return to Sudan, she refused to go, setting in motion a legal process that led to her liberation. She remained with the Canossians and received the sacraments of initiation in 1890. Soon thereafter, she entered the novitiate with the Canossians and took her vows in 1896.
Once a member of the order, she often spoke of her earlier experiences and was eager to help her fellow sisters prepare for missionary work in Africa. She spent the rest of her life in humble service to her community until her death in 1947. Her final words were “Our Lady! Our Lady!”
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Bakhita: From Slave to Saint by Roberto Italo Zanini (Amazon)
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