Did St. Josephine Bakhita Have a Sibling in a Visitation Monastery?
Over the past few years we have shared the stories* of several young girls abducted from their homes in Africa, similar to Saint Josephine Bakhita’s experience, who were, however, placed in Visitation Monasteries and Boarding schools. Some of these young women also became Visitandines.
This year we share the amazing story of the encounter of St. Bakhita with one of these African Visitandines, who may have been her sibling!
Saint Josephine Bakhita was given the mission of traveling about Italy with missionary Sister Benetti.
“One day St. Bakhita made an unusual discovery. In the cloister of the Visitation Sisters of Soresina, in the province of Cremona, there lived a Sudanese nun. Bakhita wanted to meet her and set out to do so. An emotional encounter took place. The stories of the two women bore such a resemblance that the two nuns, in recounting them to each other, clearly recognized the Lord’s hand at work. In sharing their memories and feelings about having lost their families, they even came to the conclusion at a certain point that the two of them must be long-lost sisters.
The name of this sister was Sister Maria Agostina. She was a few years older than Bakhita (about the same age as her kidnapped older sister). She, too,had been made a slave, and it had also been an Italian, Fr. Blaise Verri, who ransomed her! As an adolescent she was entrusted to the care of the Visitation Sisters of Soresino, and she subsequently decided to become a nun. She was more than eighty years old when she died, a short time before Bakhita’s death.
The encounter between the two Sudanese nuns was recorded by Sister Benetti in this way:
The brief but joyful meeting between the little Visitation sister and the little Canossian nun was indescribable. Words cannot convey how much happiness dear Sister Maria Agostina felt in seeing good Mother Bakhita as her own dearest sister. She was completely convinced of this, and it seemed to me that Bakhita was too. I do not remember anything about what they said to one another, except this: Sister Agostina, filled with joy and emotion , said, “Oh, how I thank the Lord for giving me this satisfaction”, and her tears came streaming down. Bakhita replied, “We will see each other again.” In fact, we are certain that they are already together again, in heaven.”
The Visitation Monastery in Soresina just celebrated their 200th anniversary of foundation in 2016. May their mission continue for the good of all souls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_P7zsMJgGA
Source: Bakhita, from Slave to Saint by Roberto Italo Zanini https://books.google.com/books?id=caSaUV8-nyMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=bakhita+from+slave+to+saint&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjHyK65je_RAhWl3YMKHd4QB9oQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q=bakhita%20from%20slave%20to%20saint&f=false