"If I were to meet those who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. For, if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today”.Josephine Bakhita was born in Darfur in Sudan in 1869. At the age of nine she was sold into slavery. The trauma made her forget her name. Her kidnappers called her Bakhita, meaning ‘fortunate’. She was sold and resold again and again, before being given as a present to an Italian family who took her to Milan. She became a nun noted for special charisma and reputation for sanctity. She was canonised in the year 2000.
Vatican Radio - St. Josephine Bakhita: The life of a modern-day African Saint
St. Josephine Bakhita, a survivor of human trafficking who later became a religious in the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa was canonized in 2000. It is hoped that her Feast on February 8th will become an annual event against slavery and trafficking in all parts of the world.
The UISG/USG have launched the initiative, and see it as a first step in a continual campaign through Talitha Kum – the office at UISG which co-ordinates 24 networks of religious working against trafficking worldwide.
O God, when we hear of children and adults deceived and taken to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and organ ‘harvesting’ our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies, and force. We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery, and pray with St. Bakhita for it to end. Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits have been so wounded, so that together we may make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good. Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be converted from this wickedness, and help us all to claim the freedom that is your gift to your children. AmenVatican Radio:
Slaves no more: Sunday 8 February is the feast of St. Bakhita
Pope Francis prays for victims of human trafficking
Perhaps we really didn’t notice, perhaps we chose to turn away, probably we just didn’t know what to do or to say… what’s almost certain given the sheer magnitude of the phenomenon, is that every single one of us have interacted with or crossed paths with a trafficked person at one time or another in our lives.
So, because around 2.5 million people continue to be victims of trafficking and slavery every year (official figures estimate roughly 21 million trafficked and exploited people in the world today), and because so many of them suffer abuse and unspeakable violence, we are all called to join in prayer on Sunday, February 8, to mark the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.
This particular date has been chosen as it is the Feast Day of Saint Josephine Bakhita who was sold into slavery as a young child and whose faith-filled struggle for liberation provides hope and inspiration for those who are trapped in the dark desperation of slavery.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Martina Liebsch, Policy and Advocacy Director of Caritas Internationalis about the work of Caritas and the Catholic Church in its effort to raise awareness, prevent trafficking, denounce traffickers and exploiters and help and protect the victims.
Continue reading and listening to Vatican Radio report HERE.
If you would like to learn more about this issue or become involved in campaigning against it please check out APT Ireland.