Bakhita was born in 1869 in Olgossa, in the Darfur region of Sudan. Her family, animists, were quite wealthy, and she had three brothers and a sister. Her sister was abducted by raiders when Bakhita was five years old. At nine, Bakhita was abducted too. Traumatized, she forgets her first name and would be nicknamed "Bakhita" which means lucky. It was bought by a rich Arab and would be treated with such brutality that she would be unable to move for more than a month at a time. When she was ten, she was sold again, this time to a Turkish general. He was no more human, and Bakhita would again be subjected to severe cruelty.
In 1883, Bakhita was sold to the Consul of Italy, which marked a radical change in her life. For the first two years, she helped the maid and lived a normal life before being taken to Italy. There, she was "offered" to a couple to be their daughter's governess. She discovered a new life, where she was well treated. In 1887, a friend of the family offered her a crucifix and invited her to discover Christ. The young woman manifested her strong desire to know God and on July 29, 1888 entered the Institute of the Catechumens. She discovered the life of Saint Madeleine de Canossa, founder of the Daughters of Canossian Charity, which and gave rise to a desire to make Jesus known and to care for the poor.
Soon after, her mistress wanted to go back to Africa and take Bakhita, who refused firmly because she wanted to finish her preparation for baptism. By a decision of the Procurator of the King, in 1889, Bakhita is officially and definitively freed. She could remain in the Catechumenate. She was baptized on January 9, 1890, and at the same time, received confirmation and made her first communion. She chose the name of Josephine, like her godmother, and kept the first names Fortunata and Bakhita, adding that of the Virgin Mary. Josephine consecrated herself to Our Lady, for whom she had a great devotion, and received the medal and the blue ribbon of the Daughters of Mary. Little by little, she felt a growing desire to be a nun. The superior mother of the Canossians did not oppose it, and the young woman entered the novitiate in 1893.
Sister Josephine took her first vows in 1896 and then lived to the rhythm of the rules, being devoted in everything, mainly in charge of cooking. The inhabitants of the region warmly welcomed the "madre moretta" (the black mother), struck by her smile and her faith. After a pneumonia left her with sequelae, she was given the duty of doorwoman. In 1927, she made her perpetual vows. In 1930, at the request of the mother superior, a writer met Sister Josephine to write the story of her life. The book will be published under the title Wonderful History.
From 1935, Sister Josephine was sent as a missionary. With another sister, she traveled around Italy. During the Second World War, the sisters cared for the wounded, and Sister Josephine urged the soldiers to save themselves from sin and to resort to confession to obtain God's forgiveness. After a bad fall, she remained handicapped for the rest of her life and spent a lot of time praying, especially the rosary. She died on February 8, 1947 in Schio, Italy.
Josephine Bakhita was declared Patroness of Sudan in 1995 and canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II, and was celebrated on February 8, which is also the World Day of Prayer against Human Trafficking. Josephine Bakhita is also the patroness of the oppressed Christians.
Learn more about this extraordinary saint in the work of Véronique Olmi: Bakhita, the slave who became a saint.
Find more lives of saints on Hozana.
After the death of Sister Josephine Bakhita, extraordinary phenomena were noticed around her body. She had repeatedly announced that after her death, "she would not scare anyone." Indeed, the children approached her body without the slightest apprehension because she seemed to smile at everyone.
Three years after his death, the Canossian bulletin already published six pages of names of people who attest to having received graces through the intercession of Bakhita.
For the canonization of Sister Josephine, two miracles were retained. One of them is that of a Brazilian woman with diabetes. Due to her diabetes, she developed infected wounds on her legs and was at risk of amputation. She then began to pray to Josephine Bakhita in the cathedral of Santos in Brazil, and quickly noticed the disappearance of the wounds. This inexplicable, complete and lasting healing was recognized a few years later by the Church as miraculous.
Sister Josephine never ceased to be grateful to the Lord for having delivered her, she invited everyone to measure this grace:
“Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. See how great is the grace of knowing God. ».
During the bombings of the Second World War, Sister Josephine remained serene: “No, I am not afraid, I am in the hands of God. He has freed me from the hands of lions, tigers and leopards, don't you want him to save me from bombs too?
Sister Josephine had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin: “The Blessed Virgin protected me, even when I did not know her. Even in the depths of discouragement and sadness, when I was a slave, I never despaired, because I felt in me a mysterious force that supported me. ”
Then sick, Josephine said: “I'm going slowly, slowly, step by step to eternity. Jesus is my captain and I am his assistant. I have to carry the suitcases. One contains my debts, the other, heavier, the infinite merits of Jesus. What shall I do in the court of God? I will cover my debts with the merits of Jesus, and I will say to the Eternal Father, "Now judge what you see." In heaven, I will go with Jesus and I will obtain many graces. I will come visit you in your dreams if the "Boss" allows me. In paradise, I will have power and I will obtain many graces for all. "
O God, Father of mercy, who gave us Saint Josephine Bakhita this universal sister, an evangelical model of simple faith and charity, gives to us also the will to grow and to love according to the Gospel. Hear the prayers of all those who invoke her intercession. Give us the grace of a merciful heart like hers, a heart capable of forgiving even those who have done us harm, a heart capable of overcoming evil with the mighty power of good.
“O Lord, if I could fly there with my people and preach your kindness to all with a loud cry: Oh, how many souls I could conquer you! First of all, my mother and father, my brothers, my sister who is still a slave... all, all the poor people of Africa, please, O Jesus, let them also know and love you! Amen”