For six years, Bakhita remained in Venice, performing simple household tasks. Then, in 1902, she was transferred to Schio, a small town in the beautiful mountain area of northern Italy. Her first assignment there was as a cook. She sought to do her best, taking special care that the food she prepared was as pleasing as possible and she even heated the dishware in the winter to ensure warm meals for the boarding school girls and the Sisters.
In 1935, the Sisters asked Sr. Josephine to go on a speaking tour to tell her faith story as a form of missionary work. The shy and modest Sister reluctantly consented, as she disliked being the center of attention. She relayed her witness to captivated audiences for the next year and always did so "For God’s Glory." For the next two years, she served as the doorkeeper at the Sister’s missionary novitiate in Milan.
In 1938, Sr. Josephine’s health was beginning to decline, so she returned to Schio to perform household chores. She celebrated a joyous golden 50th anniversary as a religious on December 8, 1943 with nearly the whole town present, congratulating and thanking her for all her work.
As Bakhita’s life drew to a close, she began to spend more time with the Lord, gazing upon Him in the tabernacle or on the crucifix and praying. She spent much time in prayer for her fellow missionary Sisters."
At times, I have sleepless nights: then I feel bored and sad. But I do not pay any attention to it: I offer my suffering and I feel happy. I thank God for the many graces granted me, happy to have something to offer in return, as a token of my gratitude."
As she was nearing the end of her life on this earth, some of her Sisters, expressed their concerns and fears about God’s judgement to her, to which Bakhita replied, "When a person loves another, she wishes to be together [with him], so why be afraid? Death takes us to God."She added, "I am going slowly, slowly towards eternity…I carry two bags with me; one contains my sins, the other, much heavier, contains the infinite merits of Jesus Christ. When I appear before the tribunal of God, I will cover my ugly bag with the merits of Our Lady. Then, I shall open the other and will present to the eternal Father the merits of His Son Jesus. I will tell Him: "Now, judge from what you see."
Sister Josephine suffered from a violent attack of pneumonia in the winter of 1947 and her fever caused her to go through periods of delirium and unconsciousness. When she regained consciousness, someone asked her, "How are you Sr. Josephine? Today is Saturday." As she lay dying, she replied, "Yes, I am so happy: Our Lady, Our Lady!"
These were her last words on February 8, 1947.
Pope John Paul II beatified Josephine Bakhita on May 17, 1993 and canonized her on October 1, 2000 in Rome.
"Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!"
~ St. Josephine Bakhita ~