Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita_8th February 2021

World Day of Prayer & Action Against Human Trafficking



Pope Francis has designated 8th February, the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, as the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking. Josephine Bakhita was born in Southern Sudan in 1869. During her life she experienced kidnapping and slavery in both Sudan and Italy. After gaining her freedom Josephine dedicated her life to sharing her story and to supporting the poor and suffering. She became a Canossian Sister and was canonised in 2000. This weekend may each of us be willing to find time to learn a little more about human trafficking and slavery in the world today. See what you can do at www.acrath.org.au



These intercessions can be used on the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, 8th February, or on a Sunday close to the feast.

Presider: As we honour the memory of St Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of trafficked people, let us pray that God’s freedom and justice will come for all.

  1. We pray for Pope Francis who describes human trafficking as a scourge and whose strong leadership calls for an end to all forms of exploitation and human trafficking. God of life, hear us. Response: God of life hear our prayer.
  2. We pray for civic and religious leaders, that they will speak out against human trafficking, and dedicate time, energy and resources to eradicating it. God of life hear us. Response: God of life hear our prayer.
  3. We pray for the men and women trapped in bonded labour in fields, market gardens, mines and factories, that they will be respected as human beings rather than reduced to commodities and tools of production. God of life, hear us. Response: God of life hear our prayer.
  4. We pray for an end to all discrimination, but especially discrimination against women and girls who are estimated to make up 80% of trafficked victims, so that all may live with dignity and respect. God of life, hear us. Response: God of life hear our prayer.
  5. We pray that wealthy countries such as our own may be generous in supporting impoverished nations so that all people have a decent standard of living and escape the desperate circumstances that make them vulnerable to human trafficking. God of life, hear us. Response: God of life hear our prayer.
  6. We pray that our demand for cheap goods and services will be reduced so that workers’ conditions and payment will reflect the dignity of their persons and their work. God of life, hear us Response: God of life hear our prayer.
  7. We pray for ……………………………………. who died recently and for all who have died as a result of exploitation or being subjected to slave-like conditions

St Bakhita

On Monday 8 February, the Church invites us to celebrate the feast day of one of the most recently canonized saints – St Josephine Bakhita. Each year she is honoured as the patron saint of Sudan, South Sudan and of people who are trafficked or held in slave-like conditions.

Born in Olgossa in the Darfur region of southern Sudan in 1869, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a little girl and forced to work.

She later told how her slave owner gave her the name Bakhita, which means fortunate. As a young girl, she was resold several times, until finally in 1883 she was sold to the Italian consul in Sudan.

Two years later, he took his slave, Bakhita, to Italy and gave her to his friend as a babysitter. One of her tasks was to accompany her charges to a school run by the Canossian Sisters in Venice. Over time, Bakhita felt drawn to the Good News of Jesus. She was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church in 1890, taking the name Josephine.

When the Italian slave owner and his family wanted to take their slave, Josephine, back to Africa, she refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian Sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine’s behalf and the judge eventually concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, Josephine had to be released from the bonds of slavery and given her freedom.

Josephine later joined the Canossian Sisters in 1893 and made her profession three years later. She spent the rest of her life living in her religious community, cooking, sewing and kindly welcoming visitors at the door. Her life as a Sister became one of ‘service freely given’ and the children and local citizens grew to love her.

Josephine once said, “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know God, for what a great grace it is to know God!” Josephine Bakhita died in 1947 and was canonized in 2000.

We still hear or read reports of some of the millions of women, children and men in various parts of the world, or even in Australia, who are enslaved today. These people may be physically imprisoned, held captive by debts or threats to their lives or the lives of those they love, or entrapped in forced marriages or work situations, which deprive them of their basic human right to freedom.

Five years ago Pope Francis called for the end to all forms of slavery and human trafficking, especially those which involve children. He said – “They are children, not slaves”. Last year he called human trafficking a form of slavery and an atrocious scourge. In recent years our Australian bishops and other religious leaders have called all of us to take some action towards eliminating slavery and human trafficking wherever we live or work.

So as we honour St Josephine Bakhita, let’s take a few moments to reflect on how we will each take the challenge of the Gospel to heart and be prepared, whatever the cost, to help bring the good news of freedom and justice to all.  You can find out more at  www.acrath.org.au

This weekend may each of us be willing to set aside some time to learn a little more about human trafficking and slavery in the world today. May we individually, or in our families, also decide on one or two practical actions we will take to play our part in helping to eliminate slavery. Every small action and each purchase we make can make a difference and help bring healing and hope. Look for these logos.


8 February 2021 

St Josephine Bakhita was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery. Her feast day is now observed as the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. The video below outlines her story.

Download Resources

The Diocese of Parramatta, which includes a significant Sudanese community, has prepared a range of resources for the celebration of the feast of St Josephine Bakhita. They include a poster, social media tile, bulletin notice, homily notes and prayers of the faithful. Catholics in the Diocese of Parramatta are encouraged on this day to pray for all those affected by the crimes of modern slavery and human trafficking, and the people that volunteer and work to eradicate this crime. Join them by downloading resources here.

The following prayer was prepared by Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans.

Prayer for All Who are Trafficked

We pray for all who are trafficked. 
We ask, Lord, that you strengthen the fragile-spirited
and broken-hearted.
We pray earnestly that all who suffer the loss of freedom
and the indignity of being used to serve the need and greed of others
will be freed and find freedom in a home where they are respected.
Let them experience a love that is tender and good. 

We pray for all who exploit others,
that their evil deeds will be exposed
and that their hearts will be changed.

We pray for ourselves, who live in safety and peace
with more than we need
and for all who work against trafficking in humans:
give us the wisdom and courage
to stand in solidarity with all who suffer lack of human dignity.
Help all who work against human trafficking to find ways
to ensure for all the freedom that is your gift to all of us.

We make our prayer through Christ Our Lord.


Dear ACRATH Members and Supporters


A Message from the National Office


ACRATH in Bakhita Day online prayer marathon


Pope Francis has declared the feast of St Josephine Bakhita on February 8 the International Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking. Join ACRATH and mark this day by sharing information, joining the world community in prayer and committing to do something in your own life to end slavery.


Josephine Bakhita was born in Southern Sudan in 1869, and during her life experienced kidnapping and slavery in both Sudan and Italy. After gaining her freedom Josephine dedicated her life to sharing her story and to supporting the poor and suffering. She became a Catholic and eventually a Canossian Sister and was canonised in 2000.


To mark this year’s International Day ACRATH is part of a special seven-hour Marathon of Prayer moving around the globe and including a prayer and address from Pope Francis. In fact a group of ACRATH members and a participant from New Zealand, will kick off the event in the first hour.


To join the online Marathon of Prayer against human trafficking, go to: https://preghieracontrotratta.org

The marathon begins on February 8 at 8pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time. For 15 minutes, during the first hour, ACRATH members from across Australia will pray the ACRATH song, Can You See Me? by Margaret Scharf OP. Pope Francis will join the Marathon at 11.30pm AEDT.


ACRATH has also developed Bakhita Day resources, including a poster for use in your school, parish, community or workplace. Find all Bakhita Day material, including prayers of intercession, and Talitha Kum material relating to the prayer marathon at: https://acrath.org.au/take-action/world-day-of-prayer/



You are receiving the ACRATH Information and Campaign Notice as per your request.  To unsubscribe from the “ACRATH Information and Campaign Notice” email list, please email ACRATH National Secretary secretary@acrath.org.au with UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject heading.


Kind regards



Carmel Heagerty RSM

ACRATH National Secretary


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