About Saint Josephine Bakhita:
This amazing saint bore many of the scars of slavery, but never lost her positive outlook on life. Born in southern Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped at the age of 7, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate. She was resold several times to masters who beat her regularly and subjected her to all kinds of physical and mental indignities.
Then, in 1883, she was sold to Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan. Here, for the first time in her life, she was treated with kindness rather than beatings, although she was still a slave.
Two years later, Castillo took Josephine to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Bakhita became babysitter to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice’s Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was being instructed, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine.
When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, she refused to go with them. The Canossian Sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine’s behalf, and the case went to court. The judge ruled that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885.
Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio, where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery, and welcoming visitors at the door.
She soon became well loved by the children attending the school and the local citizens as well. She once said, “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!”
She was beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later by Pope John Paul II. Her Feast Day is February 8.
Visiting her Shrine in Schio:
Her shrine is here in Schio (northeast of Verona) the Church of the Holy Family – Canossian Institute. Schio is about 1 1/2 hours by train from either Verona or Venice, or about 50 minutes from Vicenza.
It is open daily and groups are welcome. Be sure to reserve spaces through the link on their website.
Address: via A.Fusinato, 51 – 36015 Schio (VI)