Josephine Bracken in Filipino attire (1896)
|Born||Marie Josephine Leopoldine Bracken
9 August 1876
Victoria City, British Hong Kong
|Died||15 March 1902
British Hong Kong
Cause of death
|Happy Valley Cemetery, Hong Kong|
|Known for||La Viuda de Rizal
(The widow of Rizal)
|Spouse(s)||José Rizal (1896)
Vicente Abad (1900-1902) (her death)
|Partner(s)||José Rizal (1895-1896)|
|Children||Francisco Rizal y Bracken (1896; stillborn)
Dolores Bracken Abad (1900-1987)
|Parents||James Bracken and Elizabeth Jane McBride|
Marie Josephine Leopoldine Bracken (August 9, 1876 – March 15, 1902) was the common-law wife of Philippine national hero José Rizal during his exile in Dapitan in the province of Zamboanga del Norte in the southern Philippines. In the early morning hours of December 30, 1896, the day of his execution by firing squad, the couple was married in Fort Santiago (Real Fuersa de Santiago), the place of his incarceration, following a reconciliation with the Catholic Church. The marriage, though, is disputed by some sectors because no records were found regarding the union, discounting the unusual events of that day, even if it was attested by Josephine herself and the officiating priest.
Josephine was born in Victoria Barracks in Hong Kong on August 9, 1876 to Irish parents  James Bracken, a corporal in the British Army, and Elizabeth Jane McBride, who were married on May 3, 1868 in Belfast, Ireland. After her mother died shortly after childbirth, her father gave her up for adoption. She was taken in by her godfather, American George Taufer, a blind fairly well-to-do engineer of the pumping plant of the Hong Kong Fire Department, and his late Portuguese wife. He later remarried another Portuguese lady from Macau, Francesca Spencer, with whom he had another daughter.
In 1891, the second Mrs. Taufer died and the two young women then managed the Taufer home.
After on, Mr. Taufer decided to re-marry again but the new wife turned out to be difficult to deal with for Josephine. She spent two months in the Convent of the Canossian Sisters, where she previously attended early years of school. She decided to go back only after Mr. Taufer called at the Convent's door pleading her to go back home as the third wife turned out to be a bad housekeeper. Shortly after a few months, she had trouble again with Mrs. Taufer and haunter her out of the house.
Bracken later recommended that her blind adoptive father see Rizal, who was a respected ophthalmologist and had practiced in Hong Kong. By this time, he was a political exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte in southern Philippines. The family sailed to the Philippines and arrived in Manila on February 5, 1895, and later that month Josephine and Mr. Taufer sailed to Dapitan.
Taufer's double cataract was beyond Rizal's help, but the physician fell in love with Bracken. Mr. Taufer vehemently opposed the union, but finally listened to reason. Josephine accompanied her father to Manila on his way back home, together with Rizal's sister, Narcisa, on March 14, 1895. Rizal applied for marriage but because of his writings and political stance, the local priest, Father Obach, would only agree to the ceremony if Rizal could get a permission from the Bishop of Cebu. Either the Bishop did not write him back or Rizal was not able to mail the letter because of the sudden departure of Mr. Taufer.
Before heading back to Dapitan to live with Rizal, Josephine introduced herself to members of his family in Manila. His mother suggested a civil marriage which she believed as a lesser sacrament but is free from hypocrisy, and would be less sinful to Rizal's conscience, than making any sort of political retraction. Nevertheless, Bracken and Rizal lived together in Barangay Talisay in Dapitan as husband and wife in July 1895. The couple had a child born prematurely, Francísco Rizal y Bracken, who died after only a few hours.
While she was in a delicate condition Rizal played a prank on her, harmless in itself, which startled her so that she sprang forward and struck against an iron stand. Though it was pure accident and Rizal was scarcely at fault, he blamed himself for it, and his later devotion seems largely to have been trying to make amends.
In the evening before his execution on December 30, 1896 on charges of treason, rebellion and sedition by the Spanish colonial government, the Catholic Church claimed that Rizal returned to his Catholic faith and was married to Bracken in a religious ceremony officiated by Father Vicente Balanguer sometime between 5:00 AM to 6:00 AM. Rizal was scheduled to be executed at 7:00 AM.  Despite claims by the priest and Josephine herself, some sectors, including members of his family, dispute that a wedding had occurred because no records were found later regarding the union (See Jose Rizal's retraction controversy).
Bracken promptly joined the revolutionary forces in Cavite province, where she helped by taking care of the sick and wounded in the battlefield, boosting their morale, to helping operate reloading jigs for Mauser cartridges at the Imus arsenal under revolutionary General Pantaleón García. Imus was under threat of recapture so Bracken, making her way through thicket and mud, moved with the operation to Maragondon, the Cavite mountain redoubt. She witnessed the Tejeros Convention on March 22, 1897 prior to returning to Manila. She was later summoned by the Spanish Governor-General, who threatened her with torture and imprisonment if she did not leave the Islands. Owing however to her adoptive father's American citizenship, she could not be forcibly deported, but Bracken voluntarily returned to Hong Kong upon the advice of the American consul in Manila.
Upon returning to Hong Kong, she returned to her father's house. After his death, she married Vicente Abád, a Cebuano mestizo, who represented his father's tabacalera company in Hong Kong. A daughter, Dolores, was born to the couple on April 17, 1900. A late testimony of Dolores affirms that Josephine "was already suffering from tuberculosis of the larynx," at the time of the wedding. Bracken died of tuberculosis on March 15, 1902, in Hong Kong and was interred at the Happy Valley Cemetery in that country.