Pope Francis designated 8th February, the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, as the World Day of
Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking.
Name: Saint Josephine Bakhita
Feast Day: 8 February
Birthplace: Darfur, Sudan
Born: 1869 (approximately)
Died: 8 February 1947
Canonised: 1 October 2000 by Pope St John Paul II
Patron saint of Sudan, South Sudan and trafficked people
"The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone...
In the Star Trek franchise, there is a species of alien called the Borg. The Borg are cybernetic organisms that force other species to join their "hive mind" by assimilating them into their collective. They strip away everything that makes a person unique and individual. "Resistance is futile" was the last thing one heard when encountering the Borg.
St. Josephine would have disagreed: resistance is never futile. A native of Sudan, she was kidnapped at age seven, enslaved, abused, sold, and resold. She was finally bought by the Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan, and taken to Italy, where she obtained her freedom. Despite all the indignities she suffered, Josephine's spirit was never broken. She always maintained her dignity as a child of God. Our dignity comes from God: "So God created humankind in his image." (Genesis 1:27) Our value as human beings does not come from what we do or whom we associate with. Our dignity is not based on nationality, religion, or socioeconomic status. Our dignity comes from the simple fact that we are made in God's image. We are made out of love so that we may love. And when we love someone, we respect their individuality and their dignity because they too are an image of God. To strip someone of their dignity - to deny them their human rights - is blasphemy. As I reflect on the life of Saint Josephine, I realise that protecting and advocating for human rights is a sacred act. Advocating for others' freedom is itself liberating - it frees me to love people less fortunate than myself. It is a solemn act of devotion.
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