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St. Josephine Bakhita

st. josephine bakhita

St. Josephine Bakhita, a daughter of St. Magdalene, was born in Sudan in 1869 and died in Schio (Vicenza) in 1947.

At the age of approximately seven years, Bakhita was kidnapped by slave traders and consequently endured many years of physical, emotional and spiritual deprivation. There were long forced marches in slave caravans from her village of Olgossa to the slave markets in El Obeid and then on to Khartoum. Bakhita was sold and re-sold four times in a ten-year period. During this time she was tattooed all over her body with over one hundred incisions. Salt was poured into the wounds to make the pattern of scars stand out. This torture left her immobile from the bleeding and pain for over a month during which time she almost bled to death.

The name “Bakhita” comes from the Arabic language and means “The lucky one.” This name was given to her by the slave traders since, in the trauma of abduction, she had forgotten her own name.

This African flower, who knew the anguish of kidnapping and slavery, bloomed marvelously in Italy, in response to God's grace, with the Canossian Daughters of Charity.

On December 8, 1896 Josephine Bakhita was consecrated forever to God whom she called with the sweet expression “the Master!”

Her humility, her simplicity and her constant smile won the hearts of all the citizens. Her sisters in the community esteemed her for her inalterable sweet nature, her exquisite goodness and her deep desire to make the Lord known.

On October 1, 2000, she was canonized and became Saint Josephine Bakhita. She is venerated as a modern African saint, and as a saint with a special relevance to slavery and oppression. She has been adopted as the patron saint of Sudan.