Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
By Debbie Thompson

Inspired by God, and from a personal experience of mine, Iím writing this biography to honor the Holy Virgin Frances Xavier Cabrini. I can only hope others reach out to her as well.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini was a humble woman because she lived an honorable life. Her dedication was to the service and greater glory of God. Saint Frances born in Lombardi, Italy in 1850 was one of thirteen children. In her youth, she received a convent education and training as a teacher. At the age of eighteen, she desired to be a nun, but her poor health prevented her. One day a priest asked her to teach in a girlís school, House of Providence Orphanage in Cadagono in Italy where she stayed for six years.

In 1877 she made her vows there and took the religious habit.

Three years later, that orphanage closed, and her bishop then requested of her to establish the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for the poor children in schools and hospitals. Pope Leo XIII then sent her to the United States with six nuns in 1889 to work among the Italian immigrants. They docked in New York on March 31, 1889, and she soon realized this mission was not going to be easy. They found themselves in a big city where they didnít know anyone, and could not speak the English language yet.

Mother Cabrini was determined to succeed and soon realized New York lost touch with God and the mission was to restore faith to the hopefuls. She wanted to start a new school and an orphanage for the homeless, even though the archbishop was not completely supportive. However, he did find housing for them and placed them at the convent of the Sisters for Charity.  The sisters then quickly began to work by going out and introducing themselves to the community.

The Italian immigrants enjoyed having the sisters there and it did help reinforce their religion. There were only a few Italian priests at that time, while most of the priests spoke English. This made it difficult for many immigrants because they could not speak English. Therefore, they did not attend mass since they could not understand and this soon caused a separation in faith. Many had not attended mass or gone to confession for over two or three decades.

Mother Cabrini knew her mission was clear and could not let things go unattended. Filled with a deep trust in God, she knew the faith in the Italian community would be restored. With the help of the Countess of Cesnola a large building was donated to Mother Cabrini in the wealthier side of town, which became an orphanage. On Palm Sunday of 1890 this orphanage would be used as a convent for the sisters, the homeless, and for underprivileged children in New York.

This remarkable woman soon founded schools, hospitals, and more orphanages. She welcomed delinquent youths and taught them to live upright and holy lives. She consoled those who were in prison and recalled their hope for eternal salvation. She comforted the sick in the hospitals, and continued to help the immigrants and offered them shelter.

Mother Cabrini was not a strong person physically, but she was strong in faith. She succeeded in establishing sixty-seven houses: one for each year of her life. In 1909 Mother Cabrini became a U.S. Citizen, and years later during a mission in Chicago she passed away. Her death was in 1917 and her remains are laid to rest in Mother Cabrini High School in New York.

She was beautified in 1938 and during her canonization process two miracles, fully authentic by the church are attributed to Mother Cabrini. One of the miracles was the restoration of sight to a newborn baby who had been blinded by an overdose of nitrate of silver solution. The child was believed to be beyond medical aid and after the sisters prayed to Mother Cabrini for a cure, the child recovered. The second miracle was the curing of a sister who was given a day or two to live. After praying to Mother Cabrini she too was cured and continued to live for another twenty years. These two miracles helped in the canonization of this patron saint. She was declared a saint in 1946, and was the first American Citizen Saint.

In death Mother Cabrini is as important to us as she was in life. Below is the prayer to her for her intercession.

O Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Thou who has placed all Thy confidence in the Heart of Jesus and hast found in Him the secret of all perfection and the strength that made Thee and Apostle of the Gospel throughout the world, from the glory of Heaven look favorably upon me who confidently have recourse to Thy intercession. O Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, beloved spouse of Jesus, pray for me.

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