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With thanks to the Clifton Diocese newsletter, source of this item.
Sunday, 8 February is the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita and designated as a Day of Prayer for Victims of Trafficking and those who work to combat it.
The feast of St Josephine Bakhita – 8 February – as Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking and those who work to combat it, has been celebrated by Catholics in England and Wales since February 2013 and in the United States since 2014. The Vatican has also endorsed the celebration of the feast of St Josephine Bakhita as an International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.
On Sunday 8 February 2015, the Universal Catholic Church will celebrate the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, as the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking” in our parishes, dioceses, schools, communities and groups. Pope Francis has called human trafficking “an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ” and “a crime against humanity”
The aim of the Day of Prayer is to raise awareness through homilies, prayers, reflections and discussions on this global phenomenon and the plight of the millions of people, (estimated by the International Labour Organisation to be 2.5 million at any given time) who are affected by human trafficking and to support the work of the church under leadership of the Holy Father, Pope Francis to eradicate of this modern day slavery.
St Josephine Bakhita was born in about 1869 in Darfur, Sudan, into a well-respected and reasonably prosperous family. Sometime between the age of seven to nine (probably 1877), she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders and spent more than twelve years (1877–1889) being bought and sold several times, then given away. She experienced the moral and physical humiliations associated with slavery. It is said that the trauma of her abduction caused her to forget her own name; she took one given to her by the slavers, bakhita, Arabic for lucky.
Her life changed in 1882 when she was bought for the Italian Consul. From then on, she received from her masters, kindness, respect, peace and joy. Josephine came to discover love in a profound way even though at first she was unable to name its source.
She was then entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice. There Bakhita came to know about God whom, ‘she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was’ since she was a child. She was received into the Catholic Church in 1890, joining the sisters and making final profession in 1896.
The next fifty years of her life were spent witnessing to God’s love through cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door. Her constant smile won people’s hearts, as did her humility and simplicity.
As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness; when asked how she was, she’d respond: ‘As the Master desires’. During her last days she relived the painful days of her slavery and more than once begged: ‘Please, loosen the chains… they are heavy!’
Surrounded by the sisters, she died on 8 February 1947. She was canonized in 2000.
You will find a link to download a prayer card and a poster for the Day of Prayer for the Victims of Human Trafficking here . To find out more about modern day slavery in the UK and abroad see the following websites, the Medaille Trust , Unseen and Unchosen .
There is also information about what you can do to support their work.