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Catholic Charities Corporation Administrative Offices:

7911 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102

(216) 334-2900

St. Josephine Bakhita: Her Amazing Testimony

Posted February 08, 2022

St. Josephine Bakhita: Her Amazing Testimony

Life and Work

In 1869 Saint Josephine Margaret Bakhita was born in the Olagossa village in Sudan. Her father was the chief’s brother and grew up with three sisters and three brothers. She was very happy and did not know what suffering was.

Sometime in February of 1877, Josephine was kidnapped by Arab slave traders. She was forced to walk barefoot over hundreds of miles to a slave market in El Obeid, and during the journey, she was sold at least twice.

Over 12 years, she was bought a sold many times, being tortured and abused at almost every place she worked. Eventually, she forgot her birth name because of how much time she had spent in captivity.

It wasn’t until 1883 that she was sold to the Italian Vice Consul, Callisto Legani. He did not beat her. However, when it was his time to go back to Italy, Josephine begged him to take her with him, and he agreed.

She was then given away to a friend of Legani and served her new family as the nanny. Her mistress traveled to Sudan without Josephine, so she was in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. It was here that she learned about who God was.

When her mistress came back, Josephine refused to leave the sisters, which eventually led to a court case. The court found that slavery had been outlawed in Sudan before Josephine was born and declared free. She stayed with the Canossian Sisters and served with them.

Canonization & Patronage

October 1, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized St. Josephine Bakhita after visiting Sudan and honoring her publicly. Her life brings awareness to the women and girls who are affected by human trafficking and is the patron saint of Sudan.

Her feast day is celebrated on February 8th.

Original Resource

Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Part of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

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