The woman who became known as Saint Josephine Bakhita died the year before I was born (1947). I say “known as” because she had been kidnapped and sold as a slave from Darfur in the Sudan as a young child and had been so terrified that she forgot her own name. “Bakhita” means “fortunate” and hearing of the trials of her early life one might wonder how the name fit. Later, however, having been sold several times – once to an Italian consul in Khartoum – she was brought to Italy and given to a friend. She subsequently became babysitter to a catechumen whom she accompanied to catechism classes. It was there that she was drawn to the Catholic faith, was baptized and confirmed and given the name Josephine. Having won her freedom from slavery, she became a religious Sister.
Josephine’s story is somewhat miraculous if considered as a path to sainthood. Although she suffered severely as a slave and was a “menial” laborer in her convent life, it was her devotion to God that is instructive of what makes a saint. Not unlike Saint Andre Bessette (“Brother Andre of Montreal”) she spent her days as doorkeeper to the convent where she lived and was known for her love to everyone who appeared before her for welcome.
These two saints can teach us that anyone can be a saint if love is the hallmark and motivation of their everyday life. Even you…even me…
(Learn more about St. Josephine Bahkita at http://www.franciscanmedia.org)