St. Sudan

Photo of St. Josephine Bakhita

Repost from February 2012 (with video at end)

Wednesday [February 8] was the feast of Sudanese St. Josephine Bakhita.  She was born in Darfur, Sudan and was kidnapped at the age of seven, sold into slavery and was given the Arabic name Bakhita, which means fortunate. She was brutally treated and re-sold several times, but in 1883 an Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan bought her, brought her back to Italy and eventually freed her. She then went on to become a Canossian Sister. If you have not read a book on her life, or seen the movie you must change that ASAP. Pope Benedict XVI also offered a remarkable meditation on her in Spe Salvi 3. The amazing Refugee Ministry Coordinator, Sr. Pat Scherer at St. Ambrose Cathedral here in Iowa, lovingly introduced me and my family to St. Bakhita. I am grateful especially that Sr. Pat attuned us to Bakhita’s lively, very personal and active presence among the communion of saints. Seek her intercession out a few times, and you will see what I mean.

I would like to share a Bakhita quote, taken from her latter years, that embodies her truly stunning insight into the deepest meaning of Christ-charity, caritas, agápē.  Her life and words in many ways embody the history of Israel, freed by God from the cruel yoke of slavery in Egypt that they might make known to all the world the great compassion of the true God who desires to rescue all slaves from oppression. Bakhita 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… The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone…we must be compassionate!

During her final agony, she re-lived the terrible days of her slavery and more then once she begged the nurse who assisted her: “Please, loosen the chains… they are heavy!”

St. Bakhita, from the Land of Freedom where you’ve crossed over Jordan, loosen the chains that still bind us today.

Let me honor her with this gorgeous rendering of Deep River, an African slave song that was a cry to God and a yearning for freedom:

Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into camp-ground.
Deep river, my home is over Jordan
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into camp-ground.
Oh, don’t you want to go to that gospel feast,
That promised land where all is peace?
Oh deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into camp-ground.

This entry was posted in Saints.

4 comments on “St. Sudan

  1. Thom Jordan says:

    Great reflection.. Thanks for your daily dosage!

  2. Jessica says:

    She’s an inspiration, for sure. My sister gave me her saint’s medal for Christmas, and I’m happy to such a strong, unique saint.

  3. number one sinner. says:

    Thomas g ot a prayer card a couple years ago from Pete Bond one of thousands that he produces. It was of Josephine Bakhita. I proceeded to research her with my limited skills and wow ,wow.Thank you OH HOLY LORD for this magnificent example of love.oh what a soul to call on what an addition to the banquet table of . Saints. Thank you good docktah kneel may your next 1000 be as wonderfilled. P.B.W.Y. always .

    • Jennifer says:

      NOS, I too love St. Josephine Bakhita! Her joyful, peaceful, serene, loving humility is breathtaking. Her response (as Dr. Tom quotes here) to her captivity and all she had endured reminds me so much of Joseph, son of Jacob. She is such a beautiful soul! Thank you for sharing your story of your love for her. I always love to read your comments!

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