Beatification - Bakhita

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From The Pope's Homily

On May 17, 1992, Pope John Paul II beatified Msgr. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, and Josephine Bakhita, a Daughter of Charity of Canossa. Here are excerpts from the Pope's homily at the beatification.

"Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).

To the two disciples walking along the road to Emmaus Jesus said: "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Lk 24:26).

Moreover, the first reading has enabled us to hear the Apostles Paul and Barnabas "strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith"(Acts 14:22). They announce the same truth about which Jesus had spoken on the road to Emmaus, a truth confirmed by his life and death: "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God".

The disciples of the crucified and risen Christ through the succession of generations down the centuries choose the same path which he had indicated to them.

"For I have given you an example" (Jn 13: 15).

Today we are given an opportunity to fix our gaze once more on this salvific path -- the path to holiness -- concentrating on the figures of two people who from now on we will call "Blessed": Josemaria Escriva, a priest and the founder of Opus Dei, and Josephine Bakhita, a Daughter of Charity of Canossa.

The Church desires to serve and profess the whole truth about Christ. She wishes to be the steward of the whole mystery of her Redeemer. Although the way of the kingdom of God passes through many tribulations, it ends in a sharing in glory that glory which Christ revealed to us in his resurrection.

The measure of that glory is given by the New Jerusalem, announced by the inspired words of the Apocalypse of John: "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them"(Rv 21:3).

"Behold, I make all things new" (Rv 21:5) says the Lord of glory. The path toward the definitive "newness" of all things passes, here on earth, through the "new commandment": that you love one another; even as I have loved you"(Jn 13:34).

That commandment was at the center of the lives of two exemplary members of the Church who today, in the joy of Easter, are proclaimed "Blessed."


"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13:3435). With these words of Jesus the Gospel of today's Mass ends. In this saying we find the summing up of all holiness; the holiness which Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer and Josephine Bakhita attained, by paths that were different and yet met in one and the same goal. They loved God with all the strength of their heart and gave proof of a charity taken to the point of heroism through their works of service to their brothers and sisters. Far this reason the church today raises them to the honor of the altars and holds them up as examples in the imitation of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for each of one of us (cf. Gal 2:20).

Josephine knew extreme hardship in her early life.Perhaps that is why the needy folks who came to her convent door were immediately put at ease by the warmth in her voice.She knew from painful experience how welcome something as simple as a sincere smile could mean.

In 1993, when the Holy Father made an apostolic pilgrimage to Africa, the mother general of the Canossian Sisters presented the pope with a bust containing Josephine Bakhita's relics.In his homily, the pope said, "Rejoice, all of Africa! Bakhita has come back to you: the daughter of the Sudan, sold into slavery as a living piece of merchandise, and yet still free: free with the freedom of the saints."

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