2013-02-11 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Catholics in England and Wales are being invited to pray for all victims of human trafficking on February 8th, the Feast Day of Sudanese slave girl, Saint Josephine Bakhita..
In announcing the initiative, the bishops of England and Wales note that human trafficking now ranks as the second most profitable worldwide criminal enterprise after the illegal arms trade. They add that the practical response of the Church and its charities, led mainly by women religious, is to raise awareness and to provide help and support for the most vulnerable victims.
St Josephine Bakhita is the Sudanese saint who at the age of nine was kidnapped and sold into slavery. She suffered terribly at the hands of her kidnappers, so much so that she forgot her birth name. Her kidnappers gave her the name ‘Bakhita’ which means ‘Fortunate’.
At the age of 35 she was bought by the Italian Consul and was eventually brought to Italy where she was entrusted to the care of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. It was there that she came to know and experience God’s love.
She became a Catholic in 1890 and made her final profession as a Canossian Sister in 1896. For the next fifty years she led a life of simplicity, prayer and service (especially as the doorkeeper in the convent,) always showing kindness to everyone especially the children in the street.
In her final years she suffered from sickness and the haunting memories of the beatings and floggings she received whilst in slavery. She died in 1947 and was canonized in October 2000.
The bishops of England and Wales decided to initiate a Day of Prayer for the Victims of Trafficking on her feast day during their last plenary meeting, during which they heard from a top Metropolitan Police officer dealing with the problem of trafficking in the UK. The president of the bishiops' conference, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, told us the police view the Church as a vital partner in the struggle against this modern form of slavery……