In the Cathedral of El Obeid in Sudan lies the portrait of the Canossianun Bakhita – sister Fortunate- born a muslim, abducted as a little girl, sold as a slave by some slave-traders- who across an uninterrupted but providential series of events happened to enter the Catholic Church, became a nun and died a saint. She was beatified by John Paul II in St. Peter’s on May 17th 1992.
Today the Christian Sudanese who still suffer from persecution and death invoke her as their patron saint in heaven. This Sudanese slave passed through unutterable sufferings from slavery to human leberty to the liberty of faith as well and in the end consecrated her life to god in the Congregation of the sisters of Charity founded by Matilde from Canossa. Sche died in Schio, province of Vicenza in 1947. We have been able to collect some special details on Josephine also from Father Amorth who tells us that, being a child in his native Emilia, with all the boys of his parish church happened to hear from Josephine Bakhita herself the events lived by her in her childhood and consul and later on in Italy and lastly in the congregation. What impressed young Father Amorth was the good-humour and exuberanc of Fortunate who then was engaged in touring round communities and parishes in order to speak of Iesus and show how it is possible to love Iesus even if you are from another religious culture when you really look for the truth with courage and humility. To enter the catholic faith in fact, explained means to have met the name of the One who “I just loved and felt in my heart without knowing him before”.
She was snathced from her parents’ affection and her village’s while she was pulling up the weeds in a nearby field. Quite unique is this happening: the pulled up weeds almost take revenge and “root aut the good grass” because after being dragged in to the mud of desortion and devastation it could regenerate the field… Ironically her kidnappers give her the name of Bakhita which means Fortunate: She is sold and sold again meny times, she feels physical and moral sufferings because of her complete loss of liberty; she is also exposed almost to death to tattooing .
She is bouth by the Italian Consul at the market in Kartum and is stupefied when she understands they don’t use the stirrup-strap any longer at her but that she is even loved. But the joy of her new life she still feels distress for losing har family of origin for ever.
She comes to Italy following Callisto Legnani, the Consul and his friend Augusto Micheli. In Genoa, at the insistent request by Mr. Micheliìs wife , the Consul entrust Bakhita to them and she looks after little Mirumina as nanny. When the Micheli family moves auto the Red Sea Bakhita remains with mirumina at the canossian Sister’s of the congregation of the catechumens in Venice. Not by chance the advice to stay is suggested by a certain “illuminated” Mr.Checchini. Here Bakhita asks to be baptized and she was chirstened Josephine on Jannuary 9th 1990.
When Mrs Micheli comes back from the Red Sea only Mirumina follows her in her voyage because Josephine has decided to become a nun and serve God who has given her great and frequent evidence of his Love. For 50 years she carried out heroic virtues; her religious sisters respect her highly for her goodness and kindness. Her religious sisters respect her highly for her goodnes and kindness
. After a long ageing and paireful illness she returns to her “Paron” (Lord in Venetian) . Her sisters remember the words that go whith the test as notes by the canossian Congregation of Verona and say that in her agony she begged the nurse who looked after her with these expression:” Loose my chanis!” But the Blessed Mary came to rescue her and Bakhita’s last words were”The Madonna! The Madonna!” The fame of her sanctity has by now spread all over the continets… the favours she gets from the Lord are remarKable and astounding…