St. Josephine Bakhita, Pray for Us!
Josephine Bakhita was born near Jebel Agilere in South Darfur (Sudan).
Kidnapped when still very young, she experienced the cruelty of slavery as she was sold several times in slave markets of Africa. Finally she was rescued by an Italian family and brought to Italy where she not only became a Christian but also felt the call to consecrate her life to God as a sister. She joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity and lived the rest of her life at Schio, a small village near Vicenza. She died on 8 February, 1947.
From the Homily of Pope John Paul II on the Canonization St. Josephine Bakhita (October 1, 2000)
“The law of the Lord is perfect, … it gives wisdom to the simple” (Ps 19: 8).
These words from today’s Responsorial Psalm resound powerfully in the life of Sr 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.
In today’s world, countless women continue to be victimized, even in developed modern societies. In St Josephine Bakhita we find a shining advocate of genuine emancipation. The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence, and to return them to their dignity in the full exercise of their rights.
My thoughts turn to the new saint’s country, which has been torn by a cruel war for the past 17 years, with little sign of a solution in sight. In the name of suffering humanity I appeal once more to those with responsibility: open your hearts to the cries of millions of innocent victims and embrace the path of negotiation. I plead with the international community: do not continue to ignore this immense human tragedy. I invite the whole Church to invoke the intercession of St Bakhita upon all our persecuted and enslaved brothers and sisters, especially in Africa and in her native Sudan, that they may know reconciliation and peace.
Lastly, I address an affectionate greeting to the Canossian Daughters of Charity, who are rejoicing today because their sister has been raised to the glory of the altars. From the example of St Josephine Bakhita may they be able to draw renewed encouragement for generous dedication in the service of God and neighbour.
Today’s Mass Collect
O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita from abject slavery to the dignity of being your daughter and a bride of Christ,
grant, we pray, that by her example
we may show constant love for the Lord Jesus crucified,
remaining steadfast in charity
and prompt to show compassion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.