Prayers, Quips and Quotes: St. Josephine Bakhita, Feast Day Feb. 8

St. Josephine Bakhita
St. Josephine Bakhita

The feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita is celebrated on Feb. 8.

St. Josephine was born to a wealthy Sudanese family in southern Sudan in 1869. At the young age of seven she was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Josephine was given the name ‘Bakhita’ which means ‘fortunate’. She suffered greatly, being beaten and sold multiple times. Eventually, an Italian consul named Callisto Legnani bought her. He treated her kindly, but after two years he took her with him to Italy and gave her to a friend, named Augusto Michieli. She worked as a nanny for him and met the Canossian sisters who taught at his daughter’s school. She was drawn to the Catholic faith and was baptized in 1890 taking the name Josephine.


When the Michieli’s wished to return to Africa, Josephine refused to go with them. The case went to court where it was determined that because slavery was illegal in Italy Josephine was a free woman. Free to do as she wanted after years of slavery, Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893, making her profession 3 years later. For 45 years she supported the community by cooking, sewing, embroidery and being the doorkeeper.


When it became apparent that Bakhita had a great heart for the missions of Africa, her Superior asked her to visit convents to speak about her experiences, to prepare young sisters for missionary work in Africa, and raise funds for the missions. In her later years, she was confined to a wheelchair due to arthritis. She also suffered from bronchitis and pneumonia, however, she was always known for her holiness and cheerful spirit. One of her quotes is:


“The suffering caused by illness is more meritorious than any self inflicted mortification.”


St. Josephine Bakhita died in 1947. She was canonized on Oct. 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.


Be good, love the Lord,
pray for those who do not know Him.
What a grace it is to know God!


Quote of St. Josephine Bakhita


February is the Month of the Passion of the Lord


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