St. Josephine Bakhita is a modern day saint, and a strong woman with an brave history to share. She was born in Sudan in 1869, yet her life took an absolutely horrific turn when, at age 7, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery. She was given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate (a unique twist of fate), brutally beaten, and resold multiple times – the last sale of this human being was in 1883 to Callisto Legnani, the Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan. A few years later, the consul brought Josephine to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Bakhita became the nanny to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice’s Institute of the Catechumens. Run by the Canossian Sisters, Josephine would listen intently during the educational lessons directed towards Mimmina, and experienced her own faith not just begin but exponentially grow. Josephine was drawn towards the Catholic Church, chose to be baptized and confirmed in 1890, and took on the name Josephine. “Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: Who could be the Master of these beautiful things? And I felt a great desire to see him, to know Him and to pay Him homage…”
When it came time for the Michielis family to bring both Mimmina and Josephine back to Africa with them, St. Josephine refused to go. The Canossian Sisters, along with the patriarch of Venice, fought on her behalf. During the court case, the judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy that Josephine had actually been free since 1885.
Josephine then entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893, and made her profession of faith in 1896. Shortly after, she was went to the city of Schio, where she assisted in her religious community through cooking, sewing (sewing!!), and other work as needed in the community. “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!”
In creating this yardage of St. Mother Josephine Bakhita, I focused on several iconic images of her for both inspiration and historical accuracy. Her face, long and narrow, is captured with a hint of the calm smile she carried with her. On her head is her iconic wrap, immediately identifying this amazing woman. In great detail hangs, around her neck, a gold necklace of Our Lady of Sorrows (the doll you purchase has OLS perfectly drawn in detail).
This same necklace medallion appears throughout the yardage, and serves a dual purpose. At first glance, it looks as if she is surrounded by gold coins…the same coins that were used to buy and sell her into slavery. Yet, upon closer inspection, you’ll see the gold medallions are not coins but the image of Our Lady of Sorrows, the same representation that St. Josephine Bakhita wore around her neck as a symbol of her faith. That she chose Our Lady of Sorrows is not lost on me…what a meaningful depiction of Our Mother to honor!
Many of the images of St. Josephine Bakhita show her with chains around her…in creating this fabric, I didn’t want to focus to be on her enslaved years but on her faith. However, as mentioned in the representations of the coins, it is 100% a part of her and I wanted to include it in a different way. The background of the print has horizontal and vertical metal bars, semi-transparent, that give an almost caged feel to the image…reminding us of the brutality of her early years.
All fabrics are available year-round in our shop and can be delivered to you in any quantity (from fat quarter to several yards). Can’t wait to see what you make!
*Please note that I purposely blurs the images displayed on your screen to protect copyrights. The images on the printed fabric are crisp and clear.