St Josephine Bakhita is a testament to forgiveness and love even through the most horrible of situations.
Born in what is now Sudan in 1869, the Saint was abducted by Arab slave traders at the age of 8 and would be bought and sold over 5 times in 12 years.
Her fourth owner’s wife was particularly brutal and beat her daily.
In her most terrifying memory, this owner cut intricate patterns into her skin and filled the wounds with salt to ensure permanent scarring. A total of 114 cuts were made all over her torso and right arm.
She eventually was sold again, this time to a kind owner, and then gifted away to another family.
Now in Italy, Bakhita was left behind in the care of the Canossian Sisters, an order of religious sisters in Venice, while her owners took a trip to Sudan.
It was there that she came to know God, the Creator she had known in her heart all her life without having a name for Him.
When her owners returned to claim her, she refused to leave. The ensuing court case ruled that Bakhita was never legally a slave and her freedom was given to her instantly.
With full control of her life and infinite possibilities, she chose to remain at the convent, entering as a sister 3 years later.
She spent the next 48 years of her life serving the local community with surpassing love and gentleness and a constant smile. And when she died at the age of 78, it took three days to get through everyone who wanted to pay their respects.