The courage of the Sudanese Saint: Josephine Bakhita

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Continuing his catechesis on apostolic zeal, Pope Francis recalled saints who have been exemplary models of evangelization.

In this General Audience, the Pope contemplated the figure of the Sudanese woman, Josephine Bakhita, who "when she was only seven years old, was abducted and made a slave. During her enslavement, she endured numerous physical and moral sufferings. In spite of the many wounds she received, when she met Christ, she experienced a profound inner liberation."

Pope Francis said that "the experience of forgiveness made Bakhita a peaceful and peacemaking and liberated woman. Her example shows us how to free ourselves from our fears and slavery, to unmask our hypocrisies and selfishness, to reconcile with ourselves and to sow peace in our families and communities".


Dear brothers and sisters,

In our catechesis on apostolic zeal, we have been reflecting on the spread of the Gospel through the witness of men and women of every time and place. Today we turn once more to Africa and to the powerful witness of Saint Josephine Bakhita. Born in Darfur in Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery. Despite the violence and terrible sufferings she endured, she never despaired. In the cross of Christ, she discovered the source of a merciful love that affirms our innate dignity as God’s children, brings true freedom and enables us to forgive and indeed love those who wrong us.

The experience of God’s mercy and forgiveness inspired Josephine to devote herself to Christ as a religious and to serve others humbly and selflessly in Italy, her new country. The life of Saint Josephine Bakhita reveals the power of God’s grace to transform lives, to resolve conflicts and to bring about the justice, reconciliation and peace so greatly needed in our time. Let us entrust ourselves to her prayers and ask especially for the gift of peace for our brothers and sisters in war-torn Sudan and in so many other parts of our world.

I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America. I also welcome the distinguished delegation from the NATO Defense College, with prayerful good wishes for their service to the cause of peace. Upon all of you I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!



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