Saint Josephine Bakhita, the Patron Saint of Human Trafficking Victims

Please remember all victims of human trafficking on February 8th,
the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita.

Josephine Bakhita was born in Darfur Sudan in 1869. When she was seven, she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders and, in the following eight years, was resold five times. She was so traumatized by the brutality of her captors, and she couldn’t even remember her birth name. Her captors gave her the name “Bakhita,” which means fortunate.

Her final owner, the Italian consul, brought her to Italy to be a nanny for his daughter. When the family had to travel, they left Bakhita and their child in the care of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. That is where she came to know and experience God’s love.

In 1890, Bakhita asked to be baptized and received the name, Josephine. When the family returned to reclaim the girls, Josephine resisted. Her case went to court and, because slavery was not recognized by Italian law, it upheld her freedom

In 1896, Josephine professed vows as a Canossian Sister and, for 50 years, she led a life of simplicity, prayer, and service. She strived to always show kindness to everyone, especially the children in the streets. In the final years before her death in 1947, Josephine suffered from sickness and the haunting memories of the flogging and beating she endured while in slavery.  In 2000 she was canonized – the first Sudanese person ever to be declared a saint. Her Feast Day is celebrated on February 8th.

Human trafficking currently generates $150 billion a year. There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in human history. In fact, 25 different business plans have been identified after the Polaris Project (the national gatekeeper of trafficking information) completed a ten-year study of interviews with trafficking survivors on ways in which people can be sold.  Learn about trafficking at the Polaris Project or U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

If you suspect human trafficking, call 9-1-1
or the human trafficking hotline at 1-888-3737-888.

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