Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy 160th birthday to Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini Original name: Maria Francesca CabriniSaint Frances Xavier Cabrini (July 15, 1850, Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Lombardy – December 22, 1917), also called Mother Cabrini, was the first American citizen to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Early lifeCabrini was born in Sant'Angelo Lodigano, Italy, the youngest of thirteen children of Agostino Cabrini and Stella Oldini who were rich cherry tree farmers. Two months premature, she remained in delicate health throughout her 67 years.Cabrini took religious vows in 1877 and added Xavier to her name to honor the Jesuit saint, Francis Xavier. She became the mother superior of the House of Providence orphanage in Codogno, where she taught.In 1880, the orphanage was closed. She and six other sisters that took religious vows with her founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC) on November 14. Mother Cabrini composed the rules and constitution of the order, and she continued as its superior-general until her death. The order established seven homes and a free school and nursery in its first five years. Its good works brought Mother Cabrini to the attention of Giovanni Scalabrini, bishop of Piacenza and of Pope Leo XIII.
The Pope sent Cabrini to New York City on March 31, 1889, to help the Italian Immigrants there "Not to the East but to the West".
There, she obtained the permission of Archbishop Michael Corrigan to found an orphanage, which is located in West Park, Ulster County, 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 and in countries throughout South America and Europe. Long after her death, the Missionary Sisters would achieve Mother Cabrini's goal of being a missionary to China. After much social and religious upheaval and only a short time, the sisters left China, and subsequently a Siberian placement.
Chicago became a major center of Mother Cabrini’s work. In 1899, she opened the city’s first Italian immigrant school. She also transformed a former hotel into Columbus Hospital in 1905; in 1911, she opened Columbus Extension Hospital (later renamed Saint Cabrini Hospital) in the heart of the city’s Italian neighborhood on the Near West Side. Although both hospitals eventually closed near the end of the 20th century, their foundress’s name lives on via Chicago's Cabrini Street. Cabrini was naturalized as a US citizen in 1909.
Frances Cabrini was born in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano in the province of Lombardy on July l5, 1850 prematurely. Her father, Agostino, was a farmer and her mother Stella stayed at home with the children. Frances was the 10th child of 11 children; sadly only four of them survived beyond adolescence. Small and weak as a child, she encountered many difficulties throughout her life.
Death: The shrine to Mother Cabrini at 701 Fort Washington Avenue, Manhattan, New York CityMother Cabrini died of complications from dysentery at age 67 in Columbus Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, on December 22, 1917. By that time, she had founded 67 missionary institutions to serve the sick and poor and train additional nuns to carry on the work. Her 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 and 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. The street to the west of the shrine was renamed Cabrini Boulevard in her honor. VenerationCabrini was beatified on November 13, 1938, 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 its eyes. Her canonization miracle involved the healing of a terminally ill nun. The date fixed at the universal level for Mother Cabrini's feast day is November 13th 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.
Honors: Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project, which has since been mostly torn down, 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 MSC sisters still work there. Cabrini College, in Radnor, Pennsylvania, also bears her name, as does Cabrini High School in New Orleans, and Cabrini Medical Center and Mother Cabrini High School in Manhattan, New York City.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.
Saint Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini: Pray for us on this day of your birth, you were a wonderful woman, thank you for the great things that you have done, rememebering you today, happy 160th birthday!

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