Friday, February 8, 2008

February 8: St. Josephine Bakhita


If I never watched television again, I could never finish all of the material the Catholic Church gives to us through the biographies and writings of the saints. Our protestant brothers and sisters think that we "adore" the saints and Mother Mary, or they will even say that we practice idolatry and worship statues.

As I recently explained to a concerned relative: Only God may be adored in the true sense. But, do we not put pictures on our desks of family members and loved ones? Do we "worship" them because they are in the photograph or does it simply lift our thoughts to them, to make us smile, or to pray for them? Images of Mary in picture or as a statue can lift our thoughts to the life of Mary and the extraordinary virtue she exemplified. The way of life seen in Mary and the saints leads us directly to Jesus who is Virtue itself.

There are so many interesting saints that we can learn from, that along with reading Scripture daily, we should spend time reading biographies of the saints and their writings. One way to get familiar with them is to drop into a site that provides a calendar of saints and read a little each day. Share it with your family. Catholic Online has a nice section of saints, as well. If you like to see lots of Catholic News, you can get that, plus see who the saint of the day is at Catholic News Agency.

St. Josephine Bakhita was captured as a slave in Sudan, and suffered the many physical and emotional cruelties that went along with it. She recounts some of that here:


"One day I unwittingly made a mistake that incensed the master’s son. He became furious, snatched me violently from my hiding place, and began to strike me ferociously with the lash and his feet. Finally he left me half dead, completely unconscious. Some slaves carried me away and lay me on a straw mat, where I remained for over a month. ...

A woman skilled in this cruel art [tattooing] came to the general’s house…our mistress stood behind us, whip in hand. The woman had a dish of white flour, a dish of salt and a razor… When she had made her patterns; the woman took the razor and made incisions along the lines. Salt was poured into each of the wounds… My face was spared, but 6 patterns were designed on my breasts, and 60 more on my belly and arms. I thought I would die, especially when salt was poured in the wounds…it was by a miracle of God I didn’t die. He had destined me for better things."

This awesome saint teaches us about rolling with the punches and accepting them as the will of God. About her captors she said


"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…"

St. Josephine is among the incorruptibles - a group of over 250 saints whose remains have not decayed. If you want to read more on them, they can be found in this book by Joan Cruz: Incorruptibles.



More on St. Josephine Bakhita:



As a reminder, you can get many goods from the Assumption Grotto giftshop which is open on Sundays after the 9:30 and Noon Masses. There are materials on St. Bakhita - just ask at the desk.


Te Deum Laudamus! Home

3 comments:

japhy said...

His Holiness wrote about St. Josephine and her painful conversion in his recent encyclical Spe Salvi. It's quite a heart-wrenching story.

Anonymous said...

I only knew her name. I didn't know anything about this saint until I read this on your blog.

And I think I'm journeying toward sainthood because I'm not eating between meals? Because I rise early every morning to pray?

Yeah, sure.

I really don't think I could kiss the feet of the slave-traders who kidnapped and tortured me.

Thanks for this post. It reminds of just how far I have to go.

Diane K said...

"Thanks for this post. It reminds of just how far I have to go"

No doubt, that each time I read something about the saints, I feel the same way.

"Extraordinary virtue" is the way I would call it. That takes grace, but it also requires the person to act on that grace.

We need to listen to that small voice within that nudges us patiently towards good things and towards mortification.

I neglected to mention that if you pray the Divine Office you will also be aware of feasts, memorials, etc.

While little profiles of saints are good online, the best thing to do is to buy or rent a book - a biography, or the writings of a particular saint. Watch less TV, or not TV during lent and spend that spare time reading Scripture and the lives of the saints.

Or, watch movies, like the one about Don Bosco in which little St. Dominic Savio is also briefly portrayed.