A tapestry portrait of St. Josephine Bakhita hangs from the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica during her canonization in 2000 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Josephine Bakhita was born in 1868 in the Darfur region of what is now Sudan.

As a child this first Sudanese saint was kidnapped by Arab slave traders. A Muslim owner named her Bakhita, meaning “lucky”; other owners included an Arab chieftain and a Turkish general.

She endured years of cruelty, even torture, before being sold to an Italian consul who planned to free her. He took her to Italy, where she worked as a nanny for another family. In 1889 she won her freedom in court.

She was baptized Josephine, entered the Canossian Sisters and served her order in Italy for more than 50 years as a cook, seamstress and doorkeeper.

She died Feb. 8, 1947 of natural causes and was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000. She is the patroness victims of human trafficking, and her feast day coincides with the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.

She is also the patroness of Sudan, including the ethnic Sudanese community that worships at Our Lady of Guadalupe Capilla in Glendale, and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who serve at St. James the Greater Parish in Glendale, St. Louis the King School in Glendale and Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement program.

Sudanese Liturgy

5:30 p.m., Sundays

Our Lady of Guadalupe Capilla, 6733 N. 55th Ave., Glendale

St. Josephine Bakhita Court 369

10 a.m., First Saturday of the Month

St. Pius X Church Center, 809 S. Seventh Ave., Phoenix


She is also the patroness of the diocesan court of the Knights of St. Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary — the Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver is the largest organization for lay African-American Catholics.