Saint Josephine Bakhita

St. Josephine Bakhita (d. 1947) was born into a wealthy Sudanese family near Darfur. She was kidnapped when she was nine years old and forced into slavery. Her kidnappers named her Bakhita (“fortunate” in Arabic). She was sold and resold, beaten and tortured by her "owners" until 1883 when she was purchased by an Italian consul who treated her well. He brought her to Italy to work as a nanny. In 1889, the Italian courts ruled that Bakhita was enslaved illegally and declared her a free woman. She became enamored with the Catholic faith and chose to stay in Italy. Bakhita was baptized in 1890 and received her First Holy Communion from the future Pope St. Pius X. She took the Christian name of Josephine, and in 1896 entered the Institute of Canossian Daughters of Charity. She was affectionately called "Our Black Mother" by the Italians, as her amiable spirit and warm heart won the admiration of many people during her fifty years of religious life. She was known for her charity towards children and the poor, her indomitable spirit during the hardship of slavery, and her joy in religious life. St. Josephine Bakhita is the patron of Sudan, and her feast day, February 8th, has been designated the International Day of Prayer to Stop Human Trafficking.
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