St Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869. When she was aged between 7-9 years old, she was kidnapped and sold into the slave trade. She was sold from owner to owner. She was treated really badly by her owners which involved her being beaten, scarred and forced to convert to Islam.
Throughout this ordeal she forgot her own name and was given the name Bakhita which means “fortunate” and was brought by an Italian consul. He treated her well and with love which is something she had not experienced. The consul was forced to leave Africa for Italy and he took Bakhita with him. The consul’s wife asked that Bakhita was left with her. When the consul’s wife gave birth to a daughter, Bakhita became a babysitter to the child.
The consul’s wife was called away to help her husband so Bakhita and the baby was entrusted to a group of nuns. Bakhita began to learn about God. She became Christian and took a new name, Josephine.
When the consul’s wife returned to collect Bakhita and her daughter, Bakhita decided to stay with the nuns. On the 8th December 1896 she consecrated her life to God and became a nun. She spent the next 50 years as part of the community serving others.
She died on the 8th February 1947 and was made a saint by Pope John Paul II on 1st October 2000.