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Mother Cabrini


Mother Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, M.S.C.
Religious and foundress
Born (1850-07-15)July 15, 1850
Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Province of Lodi, Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, Austrian Empire
Died December 22, 1917(1917-12-22) (aged 67)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified November 13, 1938 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized July 7, 1946 by Pope Pius XII
Major shrine Chapel of Mother Cabrini High School, New York City
Feast November 13 (December 22, pre-1970)
Patronage immigrants, hospital administrators

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, M.S.C. (Italian: Francesca Saveria Cabrini), also called Mother Cabrini, was an Italian Religious Sister, who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic religious institute which was a major support to the Italian immigrants to the United States. She was the first citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Catholic Church.[1]

Early life

Cabrini was born in Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, in the Lombard Province of Lodi, then part of the Austrian Empire, the youngest of the eleven children of Agostino Cabrini and Stella Oldini, who were wealthy cherry tree farmers. Sadly, only four of the eleven survived beyond adolescence.[2] Small and weak as a child, born two months premature, she remained in delicate health throughout her life.

Cabrini took religious vows in 1877 and added Xavier to her name to honor the Jesuit saint, Francis Xavier, the patron saint of missionary service. She became the Superior of the House of Providence orphanage in Codogno, where she taught, and drew a small community of women to live a religious way of life In 1880, the orphanage was closed and then opened again by her. She and six other women who had taken religious vows with her founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (M.S.C.) on November 14.

Cabrini composed the Rule and Constitutions of the religious institute, and she continued as its Superior General until her death. The congregation established seven homes and a free school and nursery in its first five years. Its good works brought Mother Cabrini to the attention of (the now Blessed) Giovanni Scalabrini, Bishop of Piacenza, and of Pope Leo XIII.


Cabrini went to seek approval of the Pope to establish missions in China. Instead, he suggested to her that she go to the United States to help the Italian immigrants who were flooding to that nation in that era, mostly in great poverty. "Not to the East, but to the West" was his advice.

Cabrini followed the papal will and left for the United States, arriving in New York City on March 31, 1889 along with six other Sisters. There she obtained the permission of Archbishop Michael Corrigan, the Archbishop of New York, to found an orphanage, which is located in West Park, New York, today and is known as Saint Cabrini Home—the first of 67 institutions she founded: in New York, Chicago, Des Plaines, Seattle, New Orleans, Denver, Golden, Los Angeles, Philadelphia,[3] and in countries throughout South America and Europe. Long after her death, the Missionary Sisters would achieve Mother Cabrini's goal of being missionaries to China. In only a short time, after much social and religious upheaval there, the Sisters left China and, subsequently, a Siberian placement.

In New York City, she founded Columbus Hospital and Italian Hospital. In the 1980s, they were merged into Cabrini Hospital. This facility was closed in 2002. In Chicago, the Sisters opened Columbus Extension Hospital (later renamed Saint Cabrini Hospital) in the heart of the city’s Italian neighborhood on the Near West Side. Both hospitals eventually closed near the end of the 20th century. Their foundress’ name lives on in Chicago's Cabrini Street.

Cabrini was naturalized as a United States citizen in 1909.[4]


Mother Cabrini died of complications from dysentery at age 67 in Columbus Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, on December 22, 1917, while preparing Christmas candy for the local children. By that time, she had founded 67 missionary institutions to serve the sick and poor and train additional Sisters to carry on the work.

Cabrini's body was originally interred at Saint Cabrini Home, an orphanage she founded in West Park, Ulster County, New York.


In 1931, her body was exhumed as part of the canonization process, and was found to be partially incorrupt. The major portion of her body is now enshrined under glass in the altar at St. Frances Cabrini Shrine, part of Mother Cabrini High School, at 701 Fort Washington Avenue, in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. At that time, her head was removed and is preserved in the chapel of the congregation's international motherhouse in Rome. The street to the west of the shrine was renamed Cabrini Boulevard in her honor.

Cabrini was canonized in Rome in 1946 by Pope Pius XII. Due to the overwhelming increase of pilgrims to her room at Chicago’s Columbus Hospital, the then-Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Stritch, consecrated a National Shrine built in her honor within the hospital complex.

This new worship space was dedicated with the special mission to foster devotion to the first American citizen-saint. Since that historical moment, the dynamic life of the National Shrine has played an integral role in the mission and ministry of the religious congregation which Mother Cabrini founded: The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Shrine was at the heart of Columbus Hospital, formerly located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. It was a popular destination for the faithful seeking personal healing and spiritual comfort. In 2002, the hospital closed and soon after was torn down, but the shrine and Mother Cabrini’s room were conserved, though closed to the public. It was reopened on October 1, 2012, following a ceremony the previous day.

The National Shrine will now function as a stand-alone center for prayer, worship, spiritual care and pilgrimage. Today, it is an architectural gem of gold mosaics, Carrara marble, frescoes and Florentine stained glass. As part of its restoration plan, it will be surrounded by a large condominium development on North Lakeview, the former site of Columbus Hospital.

Another Mother Cabrini Shrine can be found in Golden, Colorado


Cabrini was beatified on November 13, 1938, by Pope Pius XI, and canonized on July 7, 1946, by Pope Pius XII. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants. Her beatification miracle involved the restoration of sight to a child who had been blinded by excess silver nitrate in the child's eyes. Her canonization miracle involved the healing of a terminally-ill member of her congregation.

The date fixed on the Universal Calendar of Saints for Mother Cabrini's feast day is November 13,[6] the day of her beatification. In the pre-1970 calendar, still used by some, the date was December 22, the day of her birth to heaven, and so the day normally chosen for a saint's feast day.


Chicago's Cabrini–Green housing project, which has since been mostly torn down,[7] was named after her, due to her work with Italian immigrants in the location. It has since become a haven for underprivileged and poor people and the Cabrini Sisters still work there.

Cabrini College, in Radnor, Pennsylvania, also bears her name, as does Cabrini High School in New Orleans, as well as the former Cabrini Medical Center and Mother Cabrini High School in Manhattan, New York City.

Cabrini Catholic High School in Allen Park, Michigan is named in her honor.

The Santa-Cabrini Hospital in the east end of Montreal, Canada, is also named in her honor and is very popular amongst Canadians of Italian descent.

The Scalabrini Fathers, founded by the Blessed Giovanni Scalabrini, run St Francesca Cabrini Italian Church in Bedford, England, which is named in her honor.[8]

CHRISTUS-Saint Frances Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana, bears her name because Charles Greco, the Bishop of Alexandria at the time of its founding, shortly after her canonization, had met her when she came to visit the grade school he attended in New Orleans.

The Cabrini Mission Foundation is an organization committed to advancing St. Frances Xavier Cabrini's mission and legacy of healing, teaching, and caring around the world. The Central Station of Milan is now named Stazione Francesca Cabrini.[9]

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Catholic Church located in El Paso, Texas, was founded with her as its patron saint.

St. Francis Cabrini Church in Tucson, Arizona, is another church under her patronage.

A school in Madrid, Spain have her name "Colegio Cabrini Madrid".[10]

There is also a Mother Cabrini School in Caparra Heights in Puerto Rico.

See also


External links

  • Biography at
  • St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine; in New York, N.Y.
  • Mother Cabrini High School in Manhattan
  • Mother Cabrini Shrine; in Golden, Colorado
  • Cabrini Mission Foundation
  • Cabrini College
  • Cabrini High School in New Orleans, LA
  • St. Cabrini Nursing Home in Dobbs Ferry, NY
  • St. Cabrini Home in West Park, NY
  • St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Allen Park, MI
  • Find a Grave
  • St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
  • Founder Statue in St Peter's Basilica

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