“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 words of St. Josephine Bakhita 1868-1947, a native of the Darfur region of Sudan, was kidnapped by Arab salve traders in Feb 1877 and for 12 years of her life was bought, sold and given away over a dozen times. During this period, she suffered horrific physical abuse. She was brought as a slave to Italy where she was declared free, became a Christian, and entered the convent of Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice. Here she was a cook and a doorkeeper for over 42 years. Known for her gentle voice and smile she was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000.
Her feastday, Feb 8th, is designated International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. Each year over 2.5million people are victims of trafficking and slavery. Through the Day of Prayer, we reflect on the experience of those who have suffered but also we are called to reach out to victims and survivors.