On February 8, 2019 let’s turn on a light against the trafficking of persons, to celebrate the 5th edition of the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against human trafficking that this year will have as its theme: “TOGETHER against human trafficking”.
The first edition of the IDPT was celebrated on February 8, 2015, by the will of Pope Francis, who in 2014 entrusted the International Union of Superiors and Superiors General (UISG / USG) with promoting this day.
In these years, gathering in prayer has facilitated collaborating and overcoming the boundaries within which we operate, dedicated to our projects that, although very important, could lead us to cut ourselves off from the others. The great tragedy of trafficking urges us to overcome every barrier to join forces and collaborate for the common good.
On February 12th 2018, Pope Francis received a group of young people and representatives of the organizations sponsoring the International Day of Prayer. On this occasion he donated a very beautiful prayer that can be downloaded, into many different languages, from TALITHA KUM Website. Urged by the questions of the young participants, Pope Francis recalled how important it is to tackle the root causes of trafficking and wished “that all of you can send a message to leaders at every level of governments, business and society, to demand access to quality education and, consequently, fair and sustainable employment.”
This requires us to coordinate our actions and unite our strengths. “Together against human trafficking” is the invitation addressed to everyone, each according to their own possibilities.
Feast Day 8 February
St Josephine Bakhita, also known as ‘Mother Moretta’ (our Black Mother) bore 144 physical scars throughout her life which were received after she was kidnapped at the age of nine and sold into slavery.
Born c. 1869 in Olgossa, Darfur, Sudan
Died 8 February 1947, Italy
Year of beatification 1992 (17 May)
Year of canonisation 2000 (1 October)
Such was the trauma experienced that she forgot her birth name and her kidnappers gave her the name Bakhita meaning ‘fortunate’. Flogging and maltreatment were part of her daily life. She experienced the moral and physical humiliations associated with slavery. It was only in 1882 that her suffering was alleviated after she was bought for the Italian Consul. This event was to transform her life. In this family and, subsequently in a second Italian home, she received from her masters, kindness, respect, peace and joy. Josephine came to discover love in a profound way even though at first she was unable to name its source. A change in her owner’s circumstances meant that she was entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice. It was there that Bakhita came to know about God whom, ‘she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was’ since she was a child. She was received into the Catholic Church in 1890, joining the sisters and making final profession in 1896. The next fifty years of her life were spent witnessing to God’s love through cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door. When she was on door duty, she would gently lay her hands on the heads of the children who attended the nearby school and caress them. Her voice was pleasing to the little ones, comforting to the poor and suffering. She was a source of encouragement. Her constant smile won people’s hearts, as did her humility and simplicity. As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness, but she continued to persevere in hope, constantly choosing the good. When visited and asked how she was, she’d respond: ‘As the Master desires’. During her last days she relived the painful days of her slavery and more than once begged: ‘Please, loosen the chains… they are heavy!’. Surrounded by the sisters, she died on 8 February 1947.