Novena to End Child Trafficking

We ask Saint Josephine Bakhita, Patron Saint of Human Trafficking, to pray with us to bring an end to human trafficking. Human traffickers prey on the vulnerable and those without connections, often targeting children in the social welfare system.

About Saint Bakhita

Saint Josephine Bakhita was born in the Darfur region of Sudan circa 1869. Around the age of 8, she was abducted from her family by Arab slave traders. Over the next 12 years she was bought and sold multiple times, endured many hardships and much abuse, and eventually forgot her own birth name. The slavers called her “Bakhita,” a name meaning “lucky.”

Bakhita eventually found herself in Italy, serving an Italian family as a nanny to their newborn daughter. After a few years, the family decided to relocate to Sudan, and during the transition to their new home, Bakhita and her young charge were sent to stay with a convent of Sisters in Venice.

With the Sisters, Bakhita encountered Christianity for the first time. She was deeply moved by her time there. She later said of those early days in the convent, “Those holy mothers… introduced me to that God who from childhood I had felt in my heart without knowing who He was.

When it came time for the family to finish their move to Sudan, Bakhita flatly refused, wishing instead to remain with the Sisters. The family struggled to force her to join them, but a judge ultimately intervened; he ruled that because slavery was illegal in Italy, Bakhita was a free woman.

Bakhita became baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine. Josephine went on to join the Sisters and continued to serve the Church for the remainder of her life. She became known in her community for her gentleness, calming voice, and ever-present smile.

When asked once what she would do if she were ever to meet her captors, she replied, “If I were to meet those who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. For, if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today.

After her death, in 2000, the former slave was canonized as Saint Josephine Bakhita, and is today recognized as the patron saint of human trafficking and patron saint of Sudan.

Human Trafficking in the U.S.

Human trafficking is the second largest illicit industry in the U.S., after the drug trade. The tragedy of human trafficking has a strong correlation to foster care; as many as 80% of victims rescued from sex trafficking have been in the foster care system, and approximately 44% of runaways from foster care become victims of sex trafficking (FosterVA.org).

Children who lack love, affection, and protection are the most vulnerable to child traffickers. Traffickers strategically target children within the foster system, knowing that these children are more likely to have suffered domestic abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect. Traffickers prey on these children by offering them the attention and affection that they lack in their home lives.

These children need strong, stable, and loving families to fill the void that traffickers seek to exploit. By fostering, supporting foster families and children in care, or praying for vulnerable children and an end to child trafficking, each of us can make a difference.

Praying the Novena

A novena is a recitation of prayers for nine consecutive days for a specific intention. Join us as ask for the intercession of Saint Bakhita, Patron Saint of Human Trafficking, to bring an end to this grave violation of human dignity.

The Novena

Novena to End Child Trafficking

Each day, pray the following:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Josephine Bakhita, you were stolen from your family and sold into slavery; you know the horrors and suffering of human trafficking. Join our plea as we pray to the Father, who has blessed us and shown us the dignity of each human life, created in His image. Pray with us today for an end to human trafficking.

(Pray the intention for the day.)

(Pray any personal reflections you have today.)

Saint Bakhita, pray for us. Lord, hear our prayer! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Daily Intentions

Day 1: For all victims of human trafficking

Lord, we pray for all victims of human trafficking. Be with them, and let them know Your love, even as they may feel themselves to be beyond Your reach. Let them know Your comforting presence through their suffering.

Day 2: For the families of victims

Lord, we cannot know the pain and anguish that families of trafficking victims must feel. Be with those mothers, fathers, and family members who have lost a loved one to trafficking; give them hope and peace, knowing that You are with their loved one always, even in their darkest time.

Day 3: For all traffickers

Lord, we cannot fathom how another human could abuse a child by subjecting them to trafficking. Help us to remember that human traffickers are broken people, sometimes even victims of trafficking themselves. We pray that human traffickers would have a change of heart; that they might experience a life-changing encounter with You, and find the courage and strength to start a new life in You.

Day 4: For hearts of forgiveness

Father God, help us to be like Saint Bakhita, finding a path to forgiveness for those who would traffic children. We pray that we can open our hearts to ask You for their redemption. Help us to have compassion for all of your people, even those we cannot understand, whose actions seem beyond even Your infinite forgiveness. Jesus, help us to forgive as we trust in Your mercy.

Day 5: For all those in positions of authority (Law enforcement officers, Legislators, Educators, and Medical Professionals)

Father, we pray that you would bring about the end of human trafficking. We particularly ask today that You bless and assist all law enforcement officials, that they may use their role to recognize the signs of human trafficking and work proactively to protect victims; all policymakers, that they would use their positions to strengthen online regulations and other legislation to protect children from exploitation; and for educators and medical professionals, that they would recognize trafficking victims and those at risk, and use their positions to find help for those victims.

Day 6: For all parents

Father, you watch over us and protect us. Help all parents to do the same for Your children in their care; help us to talk to our children about the dangers of trafficking, and to learn how to protect our children from predators. We pray that our love for our children will help keep them safe from those who would take advantage of them with a false love.

Day 7: For all those who are vulnerable

Lord, we pray especially today for those children who do not have a stable home environment; for those that do not have reliable adults in their lives; for those who struggle with depression and mental illness; for those who are already victims of abuse and neglect. We pray these children will know Your presence in their lives, protecting them and enveloping them with Your unconditional love.

Day 8: For awareness and action

Dear Lord, human trafficking is a problem too big to solve alone. Help us each to do our part, knowing that working together, we can make a difference. Help us learn to recognize and act against trafficking when we see it. Help us to find ways to take action to prevent trafficking, through mentoring youth, helping foster families, bringing awareness to others, and protecting those who are most vulnerable.

Day 9: For hope

Lord, we pray that despite the enormity of this issue, You will help us to never stop fighting against human trafficking. Help us to keep faith in Your plan, knowing that while we may not be able to stop this horror alone, with You, all things are possible. You are our Hope and Salvation, and we will continue fighting, knowing that You are with us. Help us to find the next steps to fight against human trafficking.