The “Saint Bakhita’s” of Visitation Monasteries

Over the past few years we have shared the stories of several young girls rescued from trafficking in Africa during the 1800’s and placed for safety in Visitation Monasteries.

Every year we discover another group of Visitandines who wecomed these children into their boarding schools.In our research we have discovered children also placed at the Visitation Monasteries of Nice, Rennes, Soresina, Salo, Padua, Clermont-Ferrand, and Montevideo. Some of these communities are still in existence and some have closed. Sources below will indicate the stories of other Monasteries we have shared in the past.

This year we will tell the stories of a child, Merecilla,  at our Voiron France Monastery, a community still very active today; and also of a young girl at the Valence Visitation.

Merecilla of Voiron

Servant of God Father Olivéri, a priest of Genoa, was instrumental in rescuing trafficked children. He went from door to door collecting the alms of the faithful in order to continue his sublime work of charity of rescuing them.

The Voiron Visitation community welcomed him twice; in the first visit , he wished to receive their little alms, and that of the boarder-students. In the second, he brought the Sisters a rescued child, Merecilla.

Nothing was more perfect than the character of dear MÉRÉCILLA. She was charmingly Endowed with a marvelous intelligence, immediately grasping what was taught to her, and debated her catechism all day long, as well as caring for the cows and our goats, and in the little occupations in the kitchen.

When she learned about God, her little heart moved towards him with ardor. When she was a little sick, which happened to her often enough, she would say “my God, I offer it to you” The Mother Superior on the point of her annual retreat , said to her, “Merecilla, I am going to hide, you will not see me for twelve days. I will speak to the good God too!  The  little one, astonished, answered her: “You will be hidden …. You will speak to God, God will speak to you, you will listen to God, and God will listen to you!

She had just received two sugar objects in the parlor, which had excited her admiration and gratitude to the person who had given them , and in the first fire of her transports she ran to Mother’s room  to show her. The  Mother, wishing to test her generosity, said to her: Merecilla. it’s for me, you give them to me. Our little girl, who intended this trifle for the priest Fr.  OLI VERI, replied to her: “Oh! no!” Then the  Mother, making a serious look, said to her: “It’s good, I’ll remember that”  Disconcerted, our Merecilla was not long without recognizing the wrong she had done, and although she possessed her little treasure, it was only a matter of bitterness and desolation. Each sister was soon informed of her unfortunate adventure, which she told only by shedding a torrent of tears. Finally, it was a pleasure to meet our good Mother: Merecilla threw herself on her knees begging her to forgive her and to take what she had previously refused her. The Mother, forgave her, caressed her even, but would not accept her little presents. The heart of our little girl suffered the rest of the day. Goodbye to cheerfulness; she was sad until evening, when one of our sisters, taking pity on her desolation, begged the Mother to accept these things. Merecilla was conducted to community. She entered it all shamefully, and did not say  her happy good evening, my Mother / Good evening, ladies,  She  still asked for forgiveness and offered her little treasure, which this time was accepted. Oh ! then cheerfulness returned; Merecilla could not repeat enough: everything for you, my Mother, always, always everything for you / her heart was so comfortable that the rest of the evening was much more joyful than usual.

Merecilla converted to the Catholic faith and received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation, in the most edifying dispositions.



Note: The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General has designated February 8 as an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking. February 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita.

Stories of Other Visitation Monasteries welcoming rescued girls:

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