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.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Micha Elyi


    [Thank you. Too many "Franks" in the family. -admin :-) ]

  • Anthony

    One of the few things of my mother’s mother that I own is her statute of Mother Cabrini.

    You must understand (and not to start trouble) but in 1900, most of the heirarcrchy of the US church was Irish (though there was some German element also — my old church in Chicago started as a Gernman church). And the old Irish Catholicism was somewhat suspecious of the new immigrants coming in frm Italy, Croatia, Poland, etc. Mother Cabrini probably received more trouble on her mission from the US heirarchy than from the nativists.

    So for Italian-American families like mine, she was a figure of reverence.