Saturday, November 24, 2007

Review: Saint Bakhita of Sudan, Forever Free

Saint Bakhita of Sudan, Forever Free by Susan Helen Wallace, FSP, 2006, Pauline Books & Media, 102 pages, Softcover, Catholic

Saint Bakhita is an outstanding example of gentleness, love, and faithfulness. In a world so easily consumed with bitterness, revenge, and self-centeredness, her virtues of forgiveness to others who deeply harmed her and gratitude for all of God’s goodness and grace in her life are inspiring. She often said, “’Be good, love the Lord, pray for the unhappy souls who do not know him yet. What a grace it is to know God!’”

At the young age of seven, Bakhita is traumatically torn from her village of Olgossa in the Darfur region of Sudan by slave traders. Although she and another young girl manage to escape, it is only temporary. Even though she receives “better” treatment as a house slave than other slaves, she is still subjected to cruel and inhumane punishments, nearly dying on more than one occasion because of being brutally whipped and viscously kicked and beaten.

That anyone should receive such harsh treatment by the hands of another human is beyond comprehension. These distressing scenes could be used as a point of discussion to explain the importance of spreading the Christian message of the incredible worth of a person’s soul, created in the image and likeness of God.

Remarkably, when Bakhita was asked later in life, “’What would you do if you met your kidnappers now?’ Without hesitating, she replied, ‘If I were to meet those slave traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would get down on my knees and kiss their hands because if all that had not happened, I would be neither a Christian nor a religious now.’ Bakhita was a living witness to the power of forgiveness.”

Through a series of incredible events, Bakhita was brought to Italy, where she came into contact with the Daughters of Charity of Canossa, also known as the “Canossians.” After some time, she would join their order and become a beautiful example of God’s love to others.

Susan Helen Wallace, FSP, does a wonderful job of introducing us to this little known saint, whose faith journey begins with terror, fear, and unbelievable cruelty, but ends in the joy of the risen Lord.

St. Bakhita, pray for us.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Yank (11/24/07).

Available from your favorite Catholic bookstore.


Maureen Wittmann said...

Thanks Beth for the review!

Make sure to add to the Africa reading list.

Elizabeth Yank said...

Thanks! Good idea.

God Bless,