November is a month dedicated to remembrance, and to celebrating our saints. Members of the Caritas team have been sharing the people who have most inspired them in their work. Karen Anstiss, Service Manager at Caritas Bakhita House, shares her enthusiasm for St Josephine Bakhita, and for this painting. It was created by Mabel Symons for her MA, but also as a gift to the house. Bakhita is at table in the house’s dining room with the guests; a former slave and victim of human trafficking among other women whose experiences she well understands.
Karen says: “the painting is amazing, it has our guests’ hands, our table, our water jug etc – she did a brilliant job!”
Karen also shared this reflection on their patron…
We are named after Josephine Bakhita, a true beacon of hope for victims of slavery and for all of us that want to see an end to this horrific crime, showing us there can be a life free of exploitation. She inspires in so many ways. Her faith was born out of her journey through the hands of many traffickers, and the belief that their behaviour towards her helped her to find God and so to find peace.
Faith shone out of Josephine, until her death on the 8th February 1947. She was laid out in an open coffin and many people visited her. The first was an unemployed man who spoke to her and asked for help in feeding his family and finding a job. And then, when he left her side he went straight to a mill and was offered work. Through life and then death, she continues to help others.
Josephine carried one hundred and forty-four scars on her body from her traffickers, scars gained as both a child and an adult. How can any of us imagine such pain and misery as she suffered? A common thread in today’s society is a happy ending to such a story and Josephine provides this with her finding of God and how to best serve him. Her faith shines through to give us a magical ending: she should be the star of a spectacular Hollywood movie, although I am sure she wouldn’t want this, she would just want us to help others to be free and be able to choose a life they want. She’s my hero!
Saint Josephine Bakhita is a light at the end of the tunnel for so many of us.