Great Jubilee News

VATICAN, Sep. 28, 00 ( -- The canonization of 120 Chinese martyrs, which will
take place on October 1, has generated headlines because of protests from Beijing. But this
Sunday's ceremonies will also see the canonization of three other saints worthy of public notice.

* Blessed Josephine Bakhita, a former slave in Sudan, became a nun in Italy late in the 19th century.
Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir Waco of Khartoum, arriving in Rome on Thursday in anticipation of the
ceremony, the canonization of a Sudanese native would send "a message of unity and pardon" to a
country now torn by civil war and widespread famine. 

Born in 1869, the future saint was sold into slavery when she was 7 years ago, and given the name
Bakhita, which means "fortunate one." She was bought and sold five times, and lived under masters
who subjected her to extraordinarily cruel treatment, before being bought by an Italian diplomat
whose family introduced her to Christianity. Eventually, when the Italian family left Sudan to escape
the insurrection launched by the Mahdi, she found herself in Italy, being educated by Canossion
sisters. She was baptized in 1890, taking the name Josephine, and eventually entered the Canossian

Although she lived a simple, humble life as a religious, she became widely known for her holiness.
Her reputation spread immensely with the publication of her memoirs, in which she recalled the
harsh treatment she had received during her years of slavery, but reasoned that all her suffering was
part of God's providential plan. 

Blessed Josephine Bakhita will be the first African native to be canonized who did not suffer a
martyr's death. Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir Waco believes that she "opens our eyes to a message
that the Christians of Sudan especially need to hear at this particular point in time. Her message is
that God loves us despite our suffering, that love always triumphs in the end, that we must pardon
our persecutors."

_ Blessed Katherine Drexel will be the second native of the United States to be proclaimed a saint.
Born in 1858 in Philadelphia, into one of that city's most prominent families, she became acutely
concerned with the plight of African-Americans and Indians. In 1887 she traveled to Rome to ask
Pope Leo XIII to send missionaries to those groups; his response prompted her to become a
missionary herself.

In 1891 she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, devoted to the education of Indians and
black Americans. With support from her family's fortune, she established an astounding 60 schools
and missions in the western and southern United States, including Xavier University in New Orleans.
Incapacitated by illness for the final 18 years of her life, she died in 1955; she was beatified by Pope
John Paul II in 1988. 

_ Blessed Maria Josefa (of the Heart of Jesus) Sancho de Guerra, the third women among those to
be canonized on October 1, lived in roughly the same epoch as the other two. 

Born in Vitoria, in northern Spain, in 1842, she founded the Institute of Sister Servants of Jesus,
which was devoted to the care of the poor, infants, the sick, and the aged. She too was a
prodigious builder of institutions, who founded 42 houses before her death in 1912.