Rome, Italy, Feb 8, 2017 / 00:08 am
As human trafficking continues to be a supremely important issue during Pope Francis' pontificate, with an estimated 20 million victims worldwide, St. Josephine Bakhita, enslaved during her own childhood, has emerged as a patron not only for her home country of Sudan, but for all victims of trafficking.
St. Josephine was kidnapped and sold into slavery at the age of 7, undergoing immense suffering throughout her adolescence before discovering the faith in her early 20s. She was baptized, and after being freed entered the Canossian Sisters in Italy.
Feb. 8, St. Josephine's feast day, marks the third international day of prayer and reflection against human trafficking. This year the day focuses on the plight of children, with the theme: "We are children! Not slaves!"
The first year, celebrated in more than 154 countries, was strongly supported by Pope Francis.