Today the Church marks St Josephine Bakhita’s feast day, and is an opportunity to pray especially for victims and survivors of human trafficking.
Bakhita’s story echoes that of our sisters and brothers who endure the tragedy of trafficking in our modern world.
She was born in Darfur in Sudan in 1869, and was so traumatised by her experiences as a young child that she forgot her own name. Those who trafficked her gave her the name Bakhita, or ‘fortunate one’ which is particularly ironic.
⛪️ Today is St Joesphine Bakhita’s feast day, a remarkable saint born in Darfur in 1869.
? It is an opportunity to pray especially for victims and survivors of human trafficking.
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) February 8, 2021
St Josephine was abducted at the age of nine. In some of her own words: “I was nine years old. I was walking in the fields with my friends, a bit far away from home. Two strangers appeared from behind a fence.
One said to my friend: ‘Let the small girls go into the forest to pick me some fruits. You continue walking, we’ll catch up with you soon.’ His plan was to fool my friend so he could kidnap me and she would not be there to tell.
"I did what I was told. Once we were in the forest, two men came from behind. One grabbed me vigorously. The other pulled out a knife and held it to my side. ‘If you cry, you’ll die! Follow us!’ I was terrified.”
Eventually, after being sold from slave-trader to slave-trader some six times, she received support from the Canossian Sisters and the Patriarch of Venice. Having witnessed and experienced the love and compassion of Christ, she asked to be baptised and took on the name “Josephine Margaret” for her baptism and confirmation in 1890.
Given her plight, she is recognised as the patron saint of victims and survivors of human trafficking.
The Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh’s Commission for Caritas, Justice and Peace is actively looking into opportunities to support the work of organisations who seek to tackle this crucial issue.
Today, let’s keep those who have endured the horrific experiences of trafficking, and those who still do, in our prayers.