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Saint Josephine Bakhita
AKAs: Giuseppina Bakhita
Born: 1868 at Oglassa, Darfur, Sudan
Died: February 8, 1947 in Italy (Natural Causes)
Venerated: Catholic Church
Beatified: May 17, 1992 by Pope John Paul II
Canonized: October 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II
Feast Day: February 8
Patronages: Human-Trafficking Survivors
Born to a wealthy Sudanese family, she was kidnapped by slave-traders at age 9, and given the name Bakhita (lucky) by them. Sold and resold in the markets at El Obeid and Khartoum, finally purchased in 1883 by Callisto Legnani, Italian consul who planned to free her. She accompanied Legnani to Italy in 1885, and worked as a nanny for the family of Augusto Michieli. She was treated well in Italy and grew to love the country. An adult convert to Christianity, she joined the Church on 9 January 1890, she took the name of Josephine as a symbol of her new life.
She entered the Institute of Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice, Italy in 1893, taking her vows on 8 December 1896 in Verona, Italy and serving as a Canossian Sister for the next fifty years. Her gentle presence, her warm, amiable voice, and her willingness to help with any menial task were a comfort to the poor and suffering people who came to the door of the Institute. After a biography of her was published in 1930, she became a noted and sought after speaker, raising funds to support missions.
Her feast has been designated the International Day of Prayer to Stop Human Trafficking.