St. Josephine Bakhita

Feast Day February 8th

Patron Saint of Sudan, victims of slavery and trafficked persons

The path to sainthood for Bakhita could be accurately described as an odyssey. Growing up a happy child in a prosperous and locally important family in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, her childhood came to a sudden and violent end when she was captured by Arabic slave traders at the age of 9. She was given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate, and was resold several times, finally in 1883 to Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan.

Two years later, he took Bakhita to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Bakhita became babysitter to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice’s Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was being instructed, Bakhita felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine.

When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, the future saint refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian Sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine’s behalf. The judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885.

Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio (northeast of Verona), where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery, and welcoming visitors at the door. She soon became well loved by the children attending the sisters’ school and the local citizens. She once said, “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!” The first steps toward her beatification began in 1959. She was beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.

“Rejoice, all of Africa! Bakhita has come back to you. The daughter of Sudan was sold into slavery … and yet was still free—free with the freedom of the saints.” – Pope Saint John Paul II


Intercessory Prayers to St. Josephine Bakhita

God of goodness and mercy, rewarder of the humble, you blessed St. Josephine Bakhita of Sudan with charity and patience. May her prayers help us, and her example inspire us to carry our cross and to love you always.

Pour upon us the spirit of wisdom and love with which you filled St. Josephine Bakhita. By serving you as she did, may we please you by our faith and our actions. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, walk with us as we walk closer to your son Jesus.

St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.