St. Josephine Bakhita
Feast Day: February 8, canonized in 2000
Life dates: 1869-1947
Details of Josephine Bakhita’s childhood slavery may not be appropriate for young children but her ability to recognize the Creator can help children understand that God is everywhere, and we can feel that Presence if we are open to it. Help children appreciate the moon, a flower, a bird, etc. and say a prayer of thanksgiving to our Creator God, as Josephine Bakhita did.
[story for children]
GOD IS ALWAYS NEAR
Life was hard for Bakhita when she was a child. She had to work every day. Some people were very mean to her. She could never play or have friends.
Even though she was not free to go to school or to play, her soul was free to wonder. No one told her about God, but she wondered.
She felt the sun warming her shoulders and saw how it made gardens grow. And so, she wondered who had made the sun.
At night, Bakhita saw the pale moon and the twinkling stars looking down as if they could see her. “Who could have made these wonderful things?” she wondered. “I wish I could know who made them!”
When Bakhita got a little older, her life changed. She was able to go to a school! There, kind teachers told her about God. Yet, in a way she already knew God was there, with her. Now she began talking to God through her prayers. Then she decided to get baptized. She chose a new name, Josephine, and added it to ‘Bakhita.’
Josephine Bakhita became a sister, or nun. She lived with other sisters who taught children. The children loved her. The people in the town loved her. The other sisters loved her, for Josephine Bakhita was always gentle and smiling. She lived many years helping others know about God’s love through her gentleness and her words.
She said, “The Lord has loved me so much! Be good, love the Lord, and pray for those who don’t know him.”
Celebrate Josephine Bakhita!
Feasting: Using a small star-shaped cookie cutter, create stars out of slices of cheese, or make star-shaped cookies. Cut apples into wedges for crescent moons. Slice oranges into flat circles for suns.
Activity: Have children close their eyes and think about ways God shows God’s presence to them. Then, with eyes open, lead a discussion on what they thought or felt, and how they could represent this. (Some suggestions if children are unable to offer ideas: a drawing of a heart, a picture of a bird, a song they remember, a grandmother’ hug.) Give them paper, crayons, etc. so they can make this prayer a piece of visual art.
Psalm 139 expresses what young Bakhita understood. Introduce children to this psalm by asking St. Josephine Bakhita to pray it with you.
Dear Saint Josephine Bakhita,
Please help us to always remember how close God is to us!
Pray with us as we thank God for this wonderful gift of this closeness!
(Based on Psalm 139)
Dear God our Creator,
You made me and know me.
You know where I go, and what I think and what I say.
You rest your hand on me, though I don’t know it.
I praise you because you made me so wonderfully!
And how I love the many things you have made for us!
Thank you, for being with me always!
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