Praying today for victims and survivors of human trafficking
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.
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.
For further information or resources, please contact Fr Basil Clark, Vicar Episcopal for Caritas, Justice and Peace at VECaritas@staned.org.uk or Callum Timms at Callum.Timms@staned.org.uk
WATCH: St Catherine, Jane Austen & Friendship
Happy Feast Day of St Catherine of Siena!
Sister Mary Simone RSM, of St Andrew's Convent in Edinburgh, explains in this video how we all need a friend who loves us enough to correct us and tell the truth. Just like Mr Knightley in Jane Austen's novel Emma.
Following St Catherine's example may we all grow to become true friends in Christ.
Sister Maria celebrates feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Today the church celebrates the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn and the Americas.
Sister Maria Guadalupe RSM is a member of the Sisters of Mercy and hails from Indiana in the US. She is of Mexican-American heritage and her current assignment is in Edinburgh.
She received the name Maria Guadalupe upon entering the novitiate.
She said: "Today in Mexico and across all the Americas we celebrate this feast in which Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego in 1531.
"He was an Indian convert and she asked him to go to the local Bishop and request that a church be built on top of Tepeyac Hill where previously a pagan temple stood in which human sacrifices once took place. In this encounter she revealed herself as our merciful mother and the Mother of God.
"With a new church she promised to show all her love, compassion, aid and defence to all who love her. The story ends with Our Lady being forever with us in leaving her image on Juan Diego's Tilma, a garment that should have disintegrated within 10 years but is still intact and in perfect condition in her basilica today in Mexico City.
"As 15 million Catholics left the church during the Reformation, at the same time in the New World it is estimated that 15 million natives entered the Church, after being converted after seeing her image. It reveals Our Lady as an evangelist, as one who desires to bring people closer to her Son."