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St. Bakhita: Patroness of Sudan, South Sudan and Human Trafficking Survivors (February 8)

St. Bakhita: Patroness of Sudan, South Sudan and Human Trafficking Survivors

The name Bahkita is a Muslim female name that originates from Urdu means the Lucky one or Fortunate One

Bakhita was born around 1870 in Sudan. She was the daughter of a local Sudanese chief who had many wives. In those days, your fellow neighbour could capture you and sell you into slavery. Slave hunting was very rampant in Africa. One day, her village was attacked by slave hunters. Many of her tribesmen were killed and some, both adults and children were captured and sold into slavery.

Bakhita was bought by a rich Arab as a maid for his two daughters. One day, after accidentally breaking a vase, she was severely lashed and kicked almost to the point of death. She spent more than a month unable to move. She was later bought by a Turkish General. This owner and his family were very cruel to Bakhita. She would recount that "Not a day passed without her receiving some wound on her body or other. When the wound from the whip began to heal, other blows will pour down on me".

She said the most terrifying memories were when she, alongside other slaves were marked by a process resembling tattooing. Patterns were drawn on her body with white flour, then a razor was used to cut deeply along the lines before filling the wounds with salt to ensure permanent scarring. A total of 114 intricate patterns were cut into her breasts, belly, and right arm.

She was finally bought in 1883 by the Italian Vice Consul, Callisto Legnani in Khartoum and two years later when he returned home to Italy, Bakhita begged to go with him. The Consul gave ownership of Bakhita to a new family, the Michieli's. They took her to their villa at Zianigo near Mirano and she became nanny to their little daughter Mimina who was born three years after Bakhita came to live with them and the bond of love between these two became inseparable.

When the family had to travel to Africa, Bakhita begged to remain in Italy. It was a difficult decision and the case had to be judged in court, but at last, Bakhita gained her freedom as Italy did not recognize slavery. Bakhita got baptized with the names Josephine Bakhita. She received Confirmation from the then Cardinal Joseph Sarto who later became Pope Pius X. She asked to be accepted into the convent of the Canossian nuns.

She was once asked what she will do if she met her captors. She replied, "I shall kneel and kiss their hands because if it were not for them she would not have become a Christian".

She worked as a lay nun, did every chore with a smile, and helped in every way she could. She carried the marks from her slave masters on her body till her death on 8th February 1947. For three days her body lay on display while thousands of people arrived to pay their respects.

Amazing. What a beautiful soul. Who can forgive such cruelty, except a big forgiving heart. Bakhita means the FORTUNATE ONE or the LUCKY ONE. May her life teach us the joy of forgiveness so that as Christ said, we too can also forgive and forgive and forgive.

St Bakitha, pray for us. Amen 🙏🏾


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