Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Frances Cabrini was the first American citizen to be elevated to sainthood.  Born in northern Italy in 1850, she was one of 13 children.  When she was 18, she wanted to become a nun but was unable to because of poor health.  She worked on a farm with family members until she was asked to teach in a girls’ school which she did for six years.  Her bishop asked her to establish a religious community and she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals.

Sister Frances Cabrini dreamt of being a missionary in China, but Pope Leo XIII had other plans for her.  He asked her to travel to the United States of America and minister to the Italian immigrant community.  She made that journey in 1889 with six members of her community.

Said to have possessed remarkable administrative abilities, Frances Cabrini was responsible for the establishment of nearly seventy orphanages, schools and hospitals, scattered over eight countries in Europe, North America and in parts of Latin America.

There is much that can be learned first-hand about Mother Cabrini because of the letters and diaries she left behind.  A very prayerful person, she was able to accomplish in her work what others said could not be done.  And even as she was maintaining schools and hospitals and in charge of hundreds of nuns, she was ever mindful to care for the poor, the homeless and immigrants who were without jobs.

Frances Cabrini’s legacy continues today through the Missionary Sisters, their lay collaborators and in the innumerable religious institutions that bear her name.  Her charism continues to inspire thousands who serve the poor in schools, hospitals and other ministries around the world.

St. Frances Cabrini died in Chicago on December 23, 1917 at the age of 67.  She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1946.  She is the patron saint of immigrants and her feast is celebrated on November 13.

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