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Josephine Bracken

Photo of Josephine Bracken
Born 9 August 1876(1876-08-09)
Hong Kong
Died 15 March 1902 (aged 25)
Hong Kong

Marie Josephine Leopoldine Bracken (August 9, 1876 – March 15, 1902) was the fiancee of Philippine national hero, José Rizal. Some believed that she was married to Rizal, although no proof of a civil or church wedding has ever been found.


Early life

Bracken was born in Hong Kong on August 9, 1876 to Irish parents, James Bracken, a corporal in the British Army, Elizabeth Jane McBride who married on May 3, 1868 in Belfast, Ireland. When her mother died shortly after childbirth, she was adopted by an American named George Taufer.

Relationship with Rizal

Bracken met Rizal when the latter spent several months in Hong Kong in 1891-92. She later recommended that her blind adopted father see Rizal, who was a respected ophthalmologist. By this time, he was a political exile in Dapitan, on the Zamboanga Peninsula. Although Taufer's condition was beyond Rizal's help, Bracken fell in love with the physician. They were allegedly wed in a civil union,[1] unable to obtain Catholic Church sanction for the marriage. This created a series of minor crises for Rizal as the domestic help, as well as his sisters, who were there to make life more comfortable for him, suspected Bracken, a white woman, of being a Spanish spy.

Some say they lived together in Dapitan. The day before his execution on charges of treason, rebellion and sedition by the Spanish colonial government, the Catholic Church claimed that Rizal had returned to his Catholic faith and was married in articulo mortis to Bracken in a religious ceremony, although there has never been proof that this event happened.

After Rizal's death, Bracken joined the revolutionaries for a time. When called before the Spanish Governor-General, she was requested to leave the Philippines, which she did, then leaving for Hong Kong.

Josephine remarried in Hong Kong to another Filipino named Vicente Abad on December 15, 1898. They had a daughter named Dolores. While in Hong Kong, Josephine contracted tuberculosis. She died on March 15, 1902 and was buried at the Happy Valley Cemetery. Her grave remains unknown today since the cemetery has been converted into a racetrack.[2]


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