ACI Prensa Staff, Feb 8, 2024 / 11:15 am
On Feb. 8, we celebrate the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, an African nun who was born in Darfur, Sudan, and eventually became an Italian citizen.
Josephine experienced firsthand the horrors of slavery for much of her life. The name “Bakhita” — which means “lucky” in Arabic — was given to her by those who trafficked her when she was between 7 and 9 years old. She then received the name Josefina, “Giuseppina,” 12 years later, when she was baptized.
“If I were to meet again those slave traders who kidnapped and tortured me, I would kneel down to kiss their hands because, if this had not happened, I would not now be Christian and religious,” Bakhita said in her biography. These words are an introduction to the beauty of her spirit and the greatness of her heart. Bakhita is an icon of the history of Christianity in Africa.
The future saint’s origins are not entirely clear, but she was probably born in Olgossa, a village in Darfur, Sudan, around 1869. She did not know for sure where and when she was born, nor did she remember the name she was given at birth. But she did have memories of the period before she was kidnapped and sold into slavery. “I lived a very happy and carefree life, without knowing what suffering was,” she said.