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Bakhita’s childhood – can we even imagine?
Posted February 5th 2019
She was born in Sudan, somewhere near Darfur, in 1869 and grew up in her family with other the children. At the age of seven
she was kidnapped by slave raiders and over the next eight years she was sold, bought, resold again and again. She was beaten daily, scarred with a knife, -she had over one hundred scars- and was so traumatized that she forget her own name. One of captors ironically nicknamed her Bakhita, meaning “Lucky”. She was given to an Italian diplomat and taken to Italy and became nanny to their child, Mimina. When the family went abroad she and Mimina were entrusted to the Canossian Sisters until they returned. Later they wanted to take her back to Egypt with them, but Bakhita resisted. “I want to stay with the Sisters,” she pleaded. A court case was taken by the Canossians Sisters in her defence which found that slavery had been outlawed in Sudan before she was born therefore she was not legally a slave and could not be compelled to go.
Loving born of suffering
In the convent Bakhita began to learn about the love of Jesus. She was baptized and took the name Josephine Margaret Bakhita. She became a religious Sister, and served for many years as “portress” in the convent, opening the door to visitors, in Schio in norther Italy. When parents brought their children to school in the mornings Bakhita welcomed them and laid her hand lovingly on each child’s head. She was greatly loved in the town.
During the Second World War the townspeople feared they would be bombed by the allied forces, but that did not happen. “It is the prayers of our African sister that have saved us,” they said.
She died in on February 8th 1947 and was greatly mourned in the town.
In the year 2000 she was canonized, declared a saint, by Pope John Paul and is the Patroness of Sudan.