This week we have a handful of female saints and brothers.
Josephine Margaret Bakhita, FDCC. (ca. 1896- 8 Feburary 1947)
Josephine is a Canossian sister from Darfur, Sudan. Around 1877 she was taken into slavery by Arabs slave traders. The trama of this event was so much that she forgot he name so she was given on by the slave traders Bakhita, meaning lucky, and she was converted to Islam. As a slave one of the most horrific things that happened to her was she was tattooed with a razor and salt and bore a total of 114 scars on her body for the rest of her life. In 1883 Bakhita was bought by an Italian who was very kind to her. Eventually she was given as a present to the Michielia family, friends of the Italian and she became the nanny of their child. Then the story get even weirder, the family wants to open a hotel in Sudan and so they sell all of their things in Italy but before everything is ready so Bakhita and the Michielia’s daughter were sent to live in a Canossian convent. When they returned to retrieve Bakhita and their daughter Bakhita refuses to leave and it goes to court. So in January of 1890 she was baptized with the names Josephine Margaret and Fortunata and in 1896 she became a Canossian. As a sister the people of Schio, Italy felt much better with her and consider her a saint who help protect the town from the horrors of World War II. Pope Benedict uses Bakhita as an example of Christian Hope in his Encyclical Spe Salvi.
I only mention Austrebertha because of one of the legends associated with her as that is about a much as we really know about her. The story goes that one day while she was looking for the donkey that carried the Monks laundry to the convent Austrebertha ran into a wolf. The wolf admitted killing the donkey and begged forgiveness. Austrebertha forgave the wolf but now the wolf was commanded to take over for the donkey and delivery the laundry, the wolf did so for the rest of its life.
Catherine de’ Ricci, TOSD (23 April 1522 – 1 February 1590)
Alessandra Lucrezia Romola de’ Ricci was a Dominican Tertiary Sister. It seems she was destined to become a sister of some sort, her Aunt was the Abbess of the Benedictine school she went to growing up. Here she was a very prayerful person and developed a deep devotion for the Passion. She joined the Third Order Dominicans and took the name Catherine after the famous TOSD from Siena, was Catherine was given a habit by her Uncle. As a novicate she began to experience ecstasies which would incapacitate her at first this frightened the other sisters and many questioned her sanity. However when they learned it was spiritual in nature they quickly changed their minds and by 30 Catherine became the Prioress. As Prioress she advised many people and was widely sought after. Her devotion to the Passion grew throughout her life and it is claimed that she bore the stigmata and would bleed like she was being scourged. It is also said that when Catherine was deep in prayer a coral ring would appear on her finger which represented her arraignment to Jesus.
Anne Catherine Emmerich (8 September 1774 – 9 February 1824)
Anne Catherine is only a blessed but she gets mentioned for being the visionary who is best known for her visions of the Passion of Christ. Mel Gibson used this as one of the sources in the movie The Passion of the Christ. Anne was from a poor farming family and had nine brothers and sister. As a child she was drawn to prayer and excelled in it. Anne wanted to join a convent but couldn’t afford to, but in 1802 along with her friend Klara Söntgen they both joined an Augustinian convent. Anne thrived in the convent and followed the rules as strict as could be, but often times she was in a great deal of pain. When the convent was suppressed Anne found refuge in a widow’s house. In 1813 Stigmata began to appear on her, many thought that it was a fraud. While having the stigmata she was visited by many people one of them was the poet Clemens Brentano. Brentano listened and wrote down her visions, which he put into books. Now we know that Brentano fabricated much of what he said were visions from Anne.
Finally we reach the boys of the week, I’ve written earlier about them as well
Cyril (827-14 February 869) and Methodius (815-6 April 885)I am a big fan of Cyril and Methodius as they are brothers who were born Constantine and Michael. Their first mission together was to evangelize the Slavs and in 862 they began. They developed the Cryllic and Glagoltic alphabets to help bring religion to the Slavic people. They are the patron saints of unity between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic. I hope that some day in the future this schism is some how healed.