Thursday, July 30, 2009

Former African slave, Josephine Bakhita, patroness of Sudan

For the Africans enslaved today, for the Christians persecuted in and around Africa and for Sudan, ask St. Josephine Bakhita to pray. They need help.
She didn't know her real name. When she was a child, Muslim slave traders captured her in the countryside as she was on an errand for her family. They sardonically nicknamed her "Bakhita", "Lucky One", and sold her to a man who tortured her until she forgot her name.
Eventually she was resold, this time to an Italian-African family, who taught her to read and gave her a Bible. Though she still longed for ehr freedom, she was glad they didn't treat ehr the way her first slaveholder had. In fact she was almost like part of the family to them. But she wasn't family. Family can come and go, and inherit. Servitude is not the same thing.
She traveled with them to Italy, where she asked to be allowed to stay a year in a convent, learning to teach children. They let her stay. A year later, they returned and said it was time to go back to Africa. She refused. She had not made a free contract to stay only a year, because being unfree she could make no free contracts. They said it was a deal and she should have to keep her word. They took it to court. The judge said Italy didn't recognize slavery, and therefore the agreement she had made was invalid as she had not been allowed to make a free decisison. It was an extorted promise. She would be allowed to stay wherever she wanted to. She took the name Josefina, or Josephine, and was known to her pupils as Mother Moretta -- Beloved Little Dark Mother -- a favorite teacher.
She is now known as patron saint of Sudan.

No comments:

Post a Comment