Archbishop's web site Denver Catholic Register Parishes Catholic Pastoral Center
November 8 , 2000
New saints includes nun who was a former Sudanese slave
VATICAN CITY (CNS) - Along with 120 Chinese martyrs and the U.S. heiress Katharine Drexel, the Catholic Church's list of new saints includes the former Sudanese slave Josephine Bakhita.
Pope John Paul II was to preside over the canonizations Oct. 1 in St. Peter's Square.
Bakhita, the Arabic name given to the 6-year-old girl by her captors, was sold several times and even managed to escape once, but was captured and sold again.
After 10 years of slavery, beatings and being "branded" by razor cuts filled with salt, she was sold to the Italian consul in Sudan. He took her to Italy in 1885 and gave her as a present to a friend.
Bakhita worked as the family's nanny and, with the family's daughter, began taking religious education classes taught by the Canossian Sisters in Venice.
The family Bakhita worked for decided to go to Africa and wanted to take her with them, but she wanted to stay in Italy, continue her religious education and be baptized.
The case eventually ended up in court; the 1889 decision decreed that since slavery was illegal in Italy, Bakhita was free.
She was baptized in 1890 with the name Josephine, and in 1893 she entered the Canossian Sisters' novitiate.
Remaining in Italy, Sister Josephine Bakhita served in the order as a cook, seamstress and doorkeeper. She died in 1947 at the age of 78.