Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking
The Bishops of England and Wales have asked us to pray for the victims of human trafficking on the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita, February 8th. We might also pray for her homeland, Sudan.
Josephine Bakhita, was born in 1869 in Darfur, Sudan. When she was seven, she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders and over the next eight years was re-sold five times. She was so traumatised by the brutality of her captors, she could not remember her birth name. Her kidnappers gave her the name "Bakhita"- which means ‘Fortunate’.
Her final owner, the Italian Consul brought her to Italy to be a nanny for his daughter. When the family had to go away on business, they left Bakhita and the child in the care of the Canossian Sisters of the institute of Catechumens in Venice. It was there she came to know and experience God’s love.
In 1890 Bakhita asked to be baptised and received the name Josephine. When the family returned to reclaim their daughter and Bakhita, Josephine resisted and her case went to court which upheld her freedom, since slavery was not recognised in Italian law.
In 1896 she took her vows as a Canossian Sister and for the next fifty years she led a life of simplicity, prayer and service (especially as the doorkeeper in the convent) always showing kindness to everyone especially the children in the street.
In her final years she suffered from sickness and the haunting memories of the flogging and beatings she received whilst in slavery. Josephine Bakhita died in 1947 and in 2000 she was canonised - the first Sudanese ever to be proclaimed a saint.
O God, who led Saint Josephine Bahkita 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 Christ our Lord.