Spirituality for Today – February 2008 – Volume 12, Issue 7

Saint Of The Month

St. Josephine Bakhita – February 8

Photo of Saint BakhitaJosephine was born in Sudan, which in the second half of the 19th century was formally owned by Egypt, and later became a territory dominated by the British. The country was ravaged by war, the largest of these triggered by the Mahdi revolt (185-1899). Lawlessness ruled the land and there was a flourishing slave trade. A nameless girl, probably born around 1870, was one of this war's victims. Kidnaped at the age of six, she was called Bakhita by her captors. She was sold many times over and was treated like an object. In 1882 her fate changed when she was purchased by the family of the Italian Consul to Khartoum, Callisto Legnani. She then learned that not all people were evil. The chaos caused by the Dervish revolt forced diplomats to leave Sudan, so Bakhita went with her patrons to Italy. She lived in the house of Legnani's friend, Augusto Michieli. The Michieli family trusted her so much that she was asked to take care fo the daughter of one of the young women in the family. Bakhita lived with the child in a boarding house at a school of Sisters of St. Magdalene of Canossa. She learned the principles of Christian faith there and was baptized in 1890, receiving the name Josephine. She wanted to be even closer to Christ, so at the age of 26 she joined the Cannossian nunnery in Venice.

She performed the simplest tasks in the congregation. She was appreciated for her cheerfulness, diligence and deep faith. Unfortunately, the color of her skin provoked reactions that did not match the Evangelical principle of equality of all people. But she would bear all the humiliation, suffering and prolonged illness in the spirit of deep faith. She died in the nunnery in Schio at the age of 77 on February 8, 1947.

She was beatified in 1992, and canonized in 2000.

Jesus, You called people of all nations and cultures to salvation,
let the shining example of faith and love provided for us
by St. Josephine Bakhita
teach us respect for every person.
You live and reign for ages and ages. Amen.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives