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Recognizing Black History Month: St. Josephine Bakhita

In honor of Black History Month, each week in February, we will share the story of an African-American Saint. This week, we introduce you to St. Josephine Bakhita (left).

St. Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Darfur region of southern Sudan when she was just seven years old. Her slave owners named her Bakhita, which means “fortunate” in Arabic. But she did not have a fortunate childhood. She was tortured by her various owners who branded her and beat her.

Although Josephine endured all this, they could never touch her spirit. As a teenager, she came into contact with Canossian Sisters, a Catholic order of nuns, and asked them to help her get baptized. These nuns petitioned to the state of Italy to intervene and free her from slavery. Once free, Josephine decided to join the religious order. She moved to Northern Italy, where she dedicated her life to assisting her religious community and teaching others to love God.

Known for her smile, gentleness, and holiness, St. Josephine was beatified in 1992 and canonized shortly after on October 2000 by Pope John Paul II. She is the first person to be canonized from Sudan, is the patron saint of the country and the patron saint of survivors of human trafficking.

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