Blessed Josephine Bakhita
In 1869, a little girl was born in Sudan in Africa. As a child she was kidnapped into slavery. This experience was so frightening that she could not even remember her name. So, her kidnappers named her Bakhita. The name Bakhita means “fortunate.”
An Italian official, Callisto Legnani, purchased Bakhita. For the first time since she had been kidnapped, she was treated with care, rather than being beaten. When the time came for the Italian consul to return to Italy, he brought Bakhita with him. Once there, Mr. Legnani left Bakhita with Mr. and Mrs. Michieli. When the Michieli’s daughter, Mimmina, was born, Bakhita became her caretaker and friend.
When Mr. and Mrs. Michieli went to Suakin to run their large hotel, they left both Mimmina and Bakhita with the Canossian Sisters at a convent in Venice. It was there that Bakhita came to know about God. When the Michieli’s returned, Bakhita asked to remain at the convent with the sisters.
On December 8, 1896, Josephine Bakhita became a sister at the convent and committed her life to God forever. For the next fifty years, she served the Schio convent community by cooking, sewing, and attending to the door. When she was on duty at the door, her friendly, sweet voice was pleasing to children, comforting to the poor, and encouraging to others.
Mother Bakhita died on February 8, 1947 at the Canossian convent in Schio, surrounded by the other sisters. She was named a saint of the Church on October 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.