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Art installation to commemorate St Josephine Bakhita, Patron Saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking

February 8, 2021

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The International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking is held on the 8th February each year in light of the example of St Josephine Bakhita. It is an opportunity to learn more about modern forms of slavery and trafficking and reflect on what might be contributing to a system perpetuating this exploitation.  

In memory of St Josephine Bakhita, Patron Saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, an art installation, curated by Artist-Priest the Rev’d Gill Sakakini, with the Rev’d Edwina Fennemore, has been installed on the dais at Winchester Cathedral.  

Kidnapped as a child in Sudan, St Josephine was forced into slavery and for over 12 years, she was bought, sold, and given away over a dozen times. Bakhita’s legacy is that transformation is possible through suffering and her story of deliverance from physical slavery provides a beacon of hope for those facing adversity.   

In situ from Monday 8th February, the feast day for St Josephine to Friday 12th February, the installation combines a range of different artistic elements of wire, beads, and tiles, alongside the work of guests from Caritas Bakhita House. Caritas Bakhita House is a refuge that provides women escaping human trafficking with the safety and support to allow them to begin the recovery process. Through art, guests of Bakhita House have created pieces that are expressive and valued, which in turn, has provided an outlet to help foster healing and mental well-being. A large icon of St Josephine will be placed in the Cathedral, alongside votive candles proximal to the installation. 

Broken tiles have been used to symbolise that ‘out of brokenness comes something whole’. In connection with the Cathedral, this part of the installation links also with the Great West Window, which was carefully rebuilt following the English Civil War, with the original fragments to produce something beautiful again. 

A wire tree will also be in position, with beads, prayers and words of hope written on scrolls and wrapped around different branches to encourage people to join together, reflect and start conversations about the important issue of modern slavery and human trafficking.   

You can find out more about modern slavery through the links provided below: