Chicago, Ill., Nov 4, 2012 / 05:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After being closed for 10 years, the reopening of the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago has helped energize the religious congregation she founded.
Sister Joan McGlinchey, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus’ representative at the shrine, said Mother Cabrini had “particular concern” for the poor and vulnerable, and the shrine “celebrates and remembers her holiness and her mission.”
The shrine’s reopening is a “coming back to life” and a “rebirth” for the missionary congregation Mother Cabrini founded, Sr. McGlinchey told CNA Nov. 2.
She said she feels “very hopeful and joyful” now that the shrine is open again.
For a decade the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have worked to reopen the shrine, which is the former chapel of Columbus Hospital. Mother Cabrini founded Columbus Hospital in 1905, but the hospital was torn down in 2001 and the shrine closed in 2002.
The Italian-born Mother Cabrini arrived in the U.S. in 1889. She went on to establish 67 institutions including hospitals, schools and orphanages across North America and Latin America. She became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized and she is the patron saint of immigrants
Upon Mother Cabrini’s death at Columbus Hospital on Dec. 22, 1917, people began to visit her first-floor room to pay their respects and to pray. The national shrine in her honor was established in August 1955.
Before Columbus Hospital was demolished, Mother Cabrini’s room was dismantled, moved and rebuilt as an annex to the shrine.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago presided over the inaugural liturgy and blessing at the shrine’s reopening Mass on Sept. 30.
Sr. McGlinchey said the saint’s message is “as relevant today as it was then” because Chicago is “blessed and challenged” with many immigrants.
“Through Mother Cabrini's work of providing health care and education for all, she was able to help immigrants embrace their new lives without abandoning their culture,” she said.
“People in Chicago knew her and admired what she did here and around the world for vulnerable populations. She knew what needed to be done and was able to get it done. She always relied on God and others to accomplish her mission.”
Visitors to the shrine can pray and learn more about the life of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and her congregation. The shrine’s interior is adorned with hand-painted frescoes, fine marble statuary, gold mosaics, Florentine stained glass and decorative carvings.
The shrine offers a new generation the chance to learn about an American saint, Sr. McGlinchey said.
Since reopening, the shrine has hosted liturgies for groups of former patrons and employees of the hospital. It has also welcomed tour groups. Almost 3,000 people have visited in the past month.
The shrine is open daily, has weekend Masses with opportunities for confession, and hosts Eucharistic adoration on Fridays.
The shrine’s website is cabrinishrinechicago.com.