In Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), he enjoins us to embark on our Christian journey of holiness by embracing the ordinariness of everyday. Throughout his exhortation, Pope Francis calls out more than 40 saints who can assist us on our mission of Christian faith, and to teach us how to rejoice and be glad in all of life’s challenges, mysteries, and joys.
During the 34 weeks of Ordinary Time, we will introduce you to some of the saints mentioned in Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation. #OrdinarySaints for #OrdinaryTime #HolyOrdinary
St. Josephine Bakhita – #32
Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self. To depend on God sets us free from every form of enslavement and leads us to recognize our great dignity. We see this in St. Josephine Bakhita: “Abducted and sold into slavery at the tender age of seven, she suffered much at the hands of cruel masters. But she came to understand the profound truth that God, and not man, is the true Master of every human being, of every human life. This experience became a source of great wisdom for this humble daughter of Africa.”
St. Josephine Bakhita was born in 1869 in Sudan. She had a happy and prosperous childhood until, at the age of seven or eight, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery. She was forced to walk more than 600 miles to a slave market and was sold at least twice during the journey.
Over the next 12 years she was bought and sold more than a dozen times, spending so much time in captivity she forgot her given name. In 1883 St. Josephine was sold to an Italian who brought her back to Italy. She was given to another family and served as their nanny. When the mistress decided to travel to Sudan, Josephine asked to stay behind and was placed in the care of the Canossian Sisters of Venice. There, Josephine came to know God.
Upon her mistresses return, Josephine refused to return to the household. The superior of the institute for baptismal candidates complained to Italian authorities on Josephine’s behalf and her case went to court. The court found that slavery had been outlawed in Sudan before Josephine was born, so she could not be lawfully made slave. She was declared free.
St. Josephine went on to join the Canossian sisters. She worked at the convent, but also traveled to other convents sharing her story. She was known for her gentle voice and smile, never complaining of her past circumstances, but rather giving thanks. Because without her life of enslavement, she would never have ended up with the Canossian sisters and learning about God.
She died on February 8, 1947. She was canonized in 2000. We celebrate her feast day every year on February 8. Pray for us St. Josephine Bakhita, patron of Sudan.