Bakhita was not the name given to her by her parents at birth. The trauma of her abduction caused her to forget her own name and Bakhita, an Arabic name which means “lucky” or “fortunate”, was given to her by her captors.
St. Josephine Bakhita was born in the Darfur region of Sudan in 1869. At about 9 years old, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery, and resold in the markets of El Obeid and of Khartoum. She experienced a series of humiliations, was tortured, mutilated and was even left half dead.
Finally, Bakhita was bought by an Italian diplomat, Callisto Legnani. When the consul had to leave for Italy, Bakhita obtained permission to go with them. On arrival in Genoa, at the request of Michieli’s wife, Bakhita became the nanny to Michieli’s daughter, Mimmina. Josephine Bakhita was loved and treated well by the family.
When the Michieli’s moved to the Red Sea to manage their hotel business in Suakin, Bakhita and Mimmina were entrusted to the Institute of the Daughters of the Canossian Charity. It was there that Bakhita came to know about God. After several months, Bakhita was baptized into Catholic faith on January 9, 1890 and was given the name, Josephine.
When Mrs. Michieli came back to get her daughter and her nanny, Bakhita in her great desire to know and serve God, remained with the Canossian Sisters.
For another 50 years, Bakhita lived in the community in Schio doing various services. And because one her duties was attending to the door, she was in frequent contact with the local community. She is well-known for her smile, gentleness as well as charisma and everyone calls her “Mother Moretta (Our little brown mother).
Josephine Bakhita died on February 8, 1947 and on her death bed she uttered her last words with a smile saying “Our Lady! Our Lady!”
In her trials, Bakhita met Jesus. She didn’t know His name. Perhaps, she just called Him hope until she met this familiar face again whom the nuns in the Canossian Charity called Jesus. Bakhita’s hope is in the Lord and her trials led her into a deeper spiritual life that made Bakhita’s life fruitful.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, there is hope. It maybe difficult to see or feel it at the moment, but it is there for you.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jeremiah 29:11
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