st. josephine bakhita sculpture displayed at the vatican
in honour of new life ministries
corpus christi, texas
she opens a trap door
the dam broken
spills out its sludge of the invisible
a bronze surge of agony
how long will you stop and look
Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S.
Sister Lou Ella has a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and new verse news as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.) On May 11, 2021, five poems from her book which had been set to music by James Lee III were performed by the opera star Susanna Phillips, star clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Mayra Huang at Y92 in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.”
Editor's note: Canadian Catholic artist Timothy Schmalz's sculpture was installed in St. Peter's Square on February 6 of this year. It celebrates Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman who was kidnapped and enslaved as a young girl in the 1870s. Her older sister had already been enslaved two years before her abduction. She was forced to walk barefoot 600 miles, sold numerous times, and covered in ritual scarification. She was whipped or wounded every day of her captivity. She did not remember her own name, so she kept the Arabic name her enslavers gave her, which means "lucky." Josephine found Christ and refuge in an Italian convent with the Canossian sisters. "Those holy mothers instructed me with heroic patience and introduced me to that God who from childhood I had felt in my heart without knowing who He was." She became a nun and helped prepare sisters who were going to perform charity and mission work in Africa. She was canonised in 2000, the first modern Black saint. St. Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of the Sudan and the patron saint of human trafficking survivors. Her feast day is February 8.
The Ekphrastic Review
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