St. Frances Xavier Cabrini: Patroness of Immigrants, Orphans
Image: Francesca Cabrini
November 13 is the feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850 – 1917), commonly known as “Mother Cabrini”, the first American citizen to be canonized a saint. Her profound trust in God and her perseverance gave this courageous woman the strength to answer the call of God and to fulfil her mission in this life.
Born in Lombardy, Italy in 1850, (one of thirteen children), Frances desired to be a missionary in China and twice attempted to enter the religious congregation that had educated her, but was turned down because of her poor health. Eventually, she became a teacher and consecrated her life to God through a private vow of virginity.
In 1877, she became Mother Cabrini after she finally made her vows and took the religious habit, also adding Xavier to her name in honor of St. Francis Xavier.
In 1880, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart with the goal of of doing missionary work in China, but Pope Leo XIII advised her to go “not to the east, but to the west.” She was also encouraged by Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, a bishop and the founder of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo (the Scalabrinians), to take her sisters to the “Little Italies” of the United States and serve the Italian immigrants who were struggling to survive in Boston and New York.
In 1889, she set out for the United States and arrived in New York, where she and six other Sisters worked with the poor, especially with Italian immigrants. Over the next 28 years, she founded numerous schools, hospitals, and orphanages.
Mother Cabrini was not a strong person physically, but she had a great inner strength. She had an unbending belief and trust in God. Throughout her life and in all her many undertakings, she always knew that God would provide for her and the many schools, hospitals, orphanages, and missions which she founded.
In 1909, Mother Cabrini became an American citizen. She died of malaria in her own Columbus Hospital in Chicago on December 22, 1917. Her remains are laid to rest in Mother Cabrini High School at 701 Fort Washington Avenue in the Bronx, New York. It is now a place of pilgrimage.
Mother Cabrini was beatified in 1938 and canonized a saint in 1946. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is the patron saint of hospitals, immigrants, and orphans.
In thirty-five years, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini founded sixty-seven missions including schools, hospitals, orphanages and child-care centers throughout the United States and England, France, Spain, and South America.
Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini Quotes
“Did a Magdalene, a Paul, a Constantine, an Augustine become mountains of ice after their conversion? Quite the contrary. We should never have had these prodigies of conversion and marvelous holiness if they had not changed the flames of human passion into volcanoes of immense love of God.”
“Do not be satisfied with loving God by yourselves alone; make all those around you love him also, and pray that everyone will love Him.”