by Sr. Susan Helen Wallace, FSP
St. Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan, Africa, in 1869. When she was a child, she was captured and sold as a slave and suffered harsh treatment. The name "Bakhita," which means "fortunate," was given to her in sarcasm by the people who kidnapped her. Bakhita was taken to Italy and put into service as a nanny. She was sent to live with the Canossian Sisters in Venice. From the sisters she learned about God and Christianity. In time, she asked to be baptized, and took the name Josephine. At the age of forty-one, Josephine felt God calling her to become one of the sisters. The Canossian Sisters accepted her into their community. For twenty-five years, Sister Josephine carried out humble services in the convent. She cooked, sewed, took care of the chapel and answered the door. During World War I, Sister Josephine helped to care for the wounded. She became known for her kindness and goodness. She was a source of comfort and encouragement to everyone who came to her in need. She was canonized on October 1, 2000, by Pope John Paul II. St. Josephine is the patron saint of the Christian Sudanese people who still suffer persecution for their faith. Bakhita's story is fascinating particularly because of the story of her slavery and how God was with her every step of the way, writing something beautiful from the sad chapters of her early years as a child. There is still childhood slavery in the world today. Bakhita's story challenges readers to respect the human dignity of all.
Ages 8 – 12