Ven. Zeinab Alif (Sr. Maria Giuseppina Benvenuti) was born around 1845 in Sudan. Kidnapped by slave traders as a child, she was eventually ransomed by Servant of God Nicolas Olivieri (who had founded an order for the purpose of saving Africans from slavery). He took her and the other girls he had rescued on that trip to meet the Holy Father, after which they were entrusted to a convent of Poor Clare nuns. She was baptized shortly thereafter, around the age of ten, and remained in the monastery to continue her education, particularly developing her skill as an organist. Gradually, she discovered that she had a religious vocation, but the Kingdom of Italy was in an anti-Catholic period, during which it was illegal for religious communities to accept new vocations. Zeinab waited patiently until the bishop allowed her to make secret vows in 1876, after which she wore her habit underneath civilian clothes. She was eventually able to live her vocation openly, ultimately being elected Abbess. Just before she died at 80, she promised to send a sign when she entered heaven. The day after she died, the convent bell began ringing without anyone touching it and the Sisters rejoiced that Mother Maria Giuseppina had gone home to Jesus.
Novena for Racial Justice