February 8th was the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. It was also the feast day of Saint Josephine Bakhita. What is a feast day you might ask and who was Saint Josephine Bakhita?
The Catholic Church sets aside days on the liturgical calendar known as "feast days", days to remember or celebrate a canonized saint or religious holiday. On that day, a particular saint may be remembered and mentioned at Mass, in prayers and in the homily (sermon).
Saint Josephine Bakhita is both inspirational and relevant today. Just like the violence and cruelty we see people inflicting upon each other today, St. Bakhita experienced this firsthand. Born around 1869 in the Darfur region of Sudan, she was kidnapped in 1877 by Arab slave traders. Traumatized by her capture, she could not speak her name and was given the name Bakhita, meaning "fortunate" in Arabic. But the years that followed were anything but fortunate for her. Bought and sold numerous times, Bakhita was beaten, cut, scarred, humiliated and mistreated by different owners.
She was eventually sold to the Italian Vice Consul, Callisto Legani in 1883. He was kind to her and when it was time for him to return to Italy he took Bakhita with him and gave her to another family whom she worked for as a nanny. She was sent with her new owner's daughter to a school in Venice with the Canossian Sisters. It was there that she became interested in learning about the Christian faith and was baptized. However, her owner wanted her to return to Sudan with him and she refused. Supported by the sisters, her case ended up in an Italian court where the decision was reached she was a free woman and had always been free since slavery was not recognized in Italy and had been illegal in Sudan since before she was born.
In 1896 she became a nun and a witness of kindenss, humility and gentleness for the 50 years that followed. She was well known and loved for her constant smile and sweetness. Saint Bakhita chose love over hate. She once said "If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today ". Saint Bakhita died February 8, 1947 and was canonized a saint in 2000.
The injustice of human slavery that still exists today and the story of St. Bakhita's life stirs hearts to action. At Heaven's Boutique we want to help even if in a small way. For this reason, we promote women and seek out products that benefit women who have been victims of slavery and abuse. Thank you for joining with us!