St. Josephine Bakhita, FDCC
Feast Day: February 8
Born: circa 1869, in Olgossa, Sultanate of Darfur (modern-day Sudan)
Died: February 8, 1947, in Schio, Italy
Josephine was kidnapped at the age of 7 and was sold into slavery. In 1885, she was brought to Italy and became a nanny to a young girl named Mimmina Michieli who was attending Venice’s Institute of the Catechumens run by the Canossian Sisters. While there, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church and in 1890, she was baptized and confirmed.
When the Michieli family wanted to bring Josephine back to Africa, she refused to go and brought the case to court instead. A judge ruled in Josephine’s favor, stating that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since coming to the country.
Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to Schio, Italy, to assist the religious community there. She soon became well-loved by the children attending the sisters’ school and the people of Schio.
Josephine was beatified in 1959 and canonized eight years later. Bakhita is the patron saint of Sudan, South Sudan and human-trafficking survivors.