Saint Josephine Bakhita. Feast Day February 8th. Josephine was born in a small village in the western Sudanese region of Dafur in Africa in 1869. Her father was a land owner and the family were well respected. When she was only about 7 years old she was abducted by Arab slave traders, as her younger sister had been also 2 years beforehand. Poor Josephine was constantly resold to different owners who treated her appaulingly ,subjecting her to many inhumane tortures. In 1883 after years of suffering at the hands of cruel men her luck changed for the better and she was sold to a wealthy Italian Vice Counsellor who eventually intrusted her to the Michieli family who treated with kindness and respect . The family moved to Italy where she became a nanny to their little girl Mimmina. Mrs Michieli had to return to the Sudan so she handed her daughter and Bakhita in to the care of Canossian nuns in a convent in Venice. They remained there 3 years before her return.It was here Josephine met her one true Master, Jesus who changed her life and gave meaning and relief to her former agony. When Mrs Michieli returned to the convent to collect her daughter , Josephine stayed on at the convent and joined the novitiate dedicating her life to God and helping to save souls. In 1902 she was assigned to the Canossian convent at Schio where she spent the rest of her life until she died in 1947. Bakhita was canonised in 2000
Blessed Leopold of Alpandeire. Feast Day. February 9th. Born on the 24th of June in 1866 in Alpandeire situated in the Malaga Province, Leopold was baptised Francisco ,Thomas ,Marquez ,Sanchez . The son of hard working peasants he spent his earlier life at home toiling the land. He came from a devout Catholic family who attended Mass and adored the Blessed Sacrament daily. After hearing two Capuchin friars preach in Rhonda in 1894 he decided to join the order and in 1889 became a postulant in Seville. In 1900 he entered the novitiate and recieved the name of Brother Leopold.After successive assignments in Seville, Antequera and Granada in 1914 he was permenantly moved to Granada where he assumed the role of gardener, sacristan and questor.Leopold would walk the dusty streets and paths distributing alms of love and dispensing Gods goodness to everyone. Leopold was known for his kind heart and humility and as a term of endearment was awarded with the title, «Humble Beggar of the three Hail Mary’s». Many sought his sound advice and intercession. He died on the 9th of February aged 92 in 1956 he was beatified by Pope Benedict XV1 IN 2010. His major shrine is situated in the Friary church in Granada where he is buried.
The feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. February 11th. Our Lady of Lourdes was a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary after her apparitions in Massabeille. In 1858 a beautiful lady dressed in white with a blue sash and a golden Rosary draped over her arm appeared in a series of visions to a young peasant girl Bernadette Soubrious in the hollow of a tree in Massabielle Lourdes.At first many doubted the authenticity of Bernadette’s visions until she related that the lady had spoken these words, «I am the Immaculate Conception».Immediately the local priests recognised the significance of these words ,it was without doubt The Mother of God.The Virgin Mary instructed Bernadette to tell the priests to erect a chapel dedicated to her. First of all a basillica was constructed on the rock , then «The Church of the Rosary» was built at the base and consecrated in 1901.In one of her apparitions Our Lady told Bernadette to drink from the fountain in the cave at Massabielle, Bernadette simply touched the ground and miracuously a spring gushed forth. In 1862 Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the visions and authorised the feast of Our Lady of Lourd for the diocese, in 1907 it was celebrated world wide in the Churches calender. Lourdes is one of the most visited Christian pilgrimage sites in the world ,people come to drink from the spring and bathe in the waters to strengthen their faith and to pray to our lady for her intercession to be healed.Countless miracles have been known to have taken place here.The healing miracles at Lourdes have been recognised as a continuation of Jesus healing miracles through the intercession of His Holy Mother.