Cardinal Pole Catholic Secondary School, Hackney, held a Mass in honour of St. Josephine Bakhita on 3 February, led by Fr Gerard King, Episcopal Vicar for the east of the Diocese. In attendance were Year 8 students, who have a particular dedication to St Josephine. At the end of Mass Fr Gerard blessed the school’s statue of the Saint before joining in a celebratory lunch with the students.
St Josephine Bakhita was born in Olgossa in the Darfur region of Sudan before being kidnapped at seven years old and sold into slavery. She was finally purchased by Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Sudan, becoming babysitter to his daughter, whom she accompanied to Venice's Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. Whilst there Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptised and confirmed in 1890 and when her employers wanted to take Josephine back to Africa, the future saint refused to go. In the ensuing court case the Canossian sisters and the Patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine's behalf. The judge concluded that, since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885.
Josephine was remarkable because she forgave those who hurt her and made an effort to resolve conflicts, exemplifying in this way the gospel values of love and forgiveness and showed what it is to be a Christian living in the modern world.