Mother Cabrini

Her feast day was last Friday, November 13, but somehow I missed writing about the first American saint, a diminutive, iron-willed woman who left a rather wealthy family in Italy to work with the poor Italian immigrants in NYC: from Italy, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.

Gaining her citizenship in 1909, Cabrini is the Patron Saint of all immigrants who leave their homeland for a new place. She was canonized in 1946, and I remember her being much loved in the Irish-Italian neighborhood of my youth. I’d always found her a little intimidating -in her photographs she seemed mysterious, dark-eyed and unsmiling, but over the years I have come to love her very much. Recently a nearby parish added some stained-glass windows during a renovation; since it is a very “Irish” parish, I was surprised to see them include a window for Mother Cabrini, but one of the ushers explained, “she’s the first American saint, and immigration is so much a part of our past and our future, we need her prayers.”

Indeed. Check out this video from our friends at NET-TV (Deacon Greg’s excellent stomping ground) – and featuring another friend, Fr. James Martin – celebrating the life and work of this dear and inspiring friend-in-heaven. WATCH IT HERE.

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About Elizabeth Scalia