Josephine Bakhita

With the Church we pray,

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.

One of the most intriguing and beautiful faces of holiness in the 20th century is Saint Josephine Bahkita (c. 1869- 8 Feb 1947), the Sudanese woman once a slave, convert, and a religious sister. She’s gaining popularity and was mentioned by the Pope in Spe Salvi.

Not long ago I watched a most beautiful film, “Bakhita: From Slave to Saint.” It was exemplary in the way the directors brought out the beauty of conversion for Bakhita but also for others, including the Canossian sisters and the parish priest.

I can’t recommend the movie enough even with the subtitles.

In a 1993 homily Pope John Paul II said of Bakhita:

In the midst of so much hardship, Blessed Bakhita is your model and heavenly patron. In the terrible trials of her life Bakhita always listened to Christ’s word. She learned the mystery of his Cross and Resurrection: the saving truth about God who so loved each one of us that he gave his only Son (Cf. Jn. 3: 16), the saving truth about the Son who loves each one of us to the end (Cf. ibid. 13: 1).

Blessed Bakhita was faithful, she was strong. She confided in Christ without reserve. She showed herself a servant of God by patiently enduring troubles, hardships and difficulties, by purity, knowledge, forbearance and kindness (Cf. 2Cor. 6: 4-6) – like the first Christians who, in the midst of the persecutions of the Roman Empire, showed themselves to be “servants of God… in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute” (Ibid. 6: 8). So writes the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians. And so speaks the history of the Church in Africa, not excluding the countries which I have now visited: Benin, Uganda, the Sudan.

It was the power of God which made Bakhita – in the likeness of Christ – into the one who enriches many. The poor slave-girl who had nothing showed that she was in fact the one who had the greatest treasure (Cf. ibid. 6: 10). And even if, humanly speaking, she seemed condemned to death, she lives! (Cf. ibid. 6: 9). She lives just as Christ lives, though he was condemned to death and was crucified. She lives with his life!