St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
November 13

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

When they lived:

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini lived from July 15, 1850, to December 22, 1917.

Where they lived:

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was born in Lombardy, Italy, in a small village called Sant’Angelo Lodigiano. However, she spent most of her life as a missionary in the United States.

Notable world events during the time of their life:

  • 1861-1865: American Civil War: While Cabrini was still a teenager, the United States was embroiled in a brutal and devastating Civil War. The conflict had a significant impact on the nation, shaping its history and laying the groundwork for important social and political changes.
  • 1889: Eiffel Tower Inauguration: A marvel of engineering and an iconic symbol of France, the Eiffel Tower was officially opened on March 31, 1889, in Paris. This event marked the world’s tallest man-made structure at the time and became a testament to human innovation and architectural excellence.
  • 1895: Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen’s Discovery of X-Rays: In November 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen accidentally discovered X-rays while experimenting with cathode rays. This groundbreaking scientific revelation revolutionized medicine and laid the foundation for diagnostic radiology, enabling doctors to visualize internal structures of the human body non-invasively.
  • 1903: Wright Brothers’ First Powered Flight: On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved the first controlled, sustained powered flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Their invention of the airplane marked a pivotal moment in human history, opening up new possibilities for global travel and connecting people across continents.
  • 1912: Sinking of the RMS Titanic: On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic, a luxurious British passenger liner, famously sank after colliding with an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. The tragic disaster shocked the world and led to significant advancements in maritime safety regulations.

Their patronage:

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants, orphans, and hospital administrators. Her dedication to serving Italian immigrants in the United States and her tireless efforts in establishing schools, hospitals, and orphanages earned her this patronage. As an inspiring figure who dedicated her life to helping those in need, she continues to be venerated as a symbol of compassion, courage, and care for the marginalized and underserved communities.

Early life

Born two months prematurely on July 15, 1850, and dying on December 22, 1917, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was born Maria Francesca Cabrini. She was the youngest of thirteen children, and her parents were farmers. Of the thirteen children born to her parents, only four of them survived beyond adolescence. Because of her premature birth, she had fragile health throughout her life.

She is also known as Mother Cabrini, and she was a Roman Catholic nun of Italian-American origins. When she was thirteen years old, she attended a school run by the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and she graduated five years later with a teaching certificate.

Call to Service

St. Frances’ parents died in 1870, and after their deaths, she applied to be admitted to the Daughters of the Sacred Heart at Arluno. She was applying to join her former teachers, and unfortunately, they were reluctant, and they told her that she was too frail for their lives.

St. Frances then went on to become the headmistress of the House of Providence, which was an orphanage in Codogno. When she was there, she taught a small community of women to live religious lives. In 1877, she took religious vows and added Xavier to her name; this was in honor of the Jesuit saint Francis Xavier, the patron saint of missionary service.

Missionary Work

St. Frances was the founding member of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is a Catholic religious institute that provided significant support to her fellow Italian immigrants who were moving to the United States of America. It was founded in 1880 in collaboration with seven other women. St. Frances composed the rules and constitution of this religious institute, and she was its superior general up until the time of her death.

The sisters of this order took in orphans and foundlings. They opened a day school to help pay her expenses, and they started classes in needlework and sold their fine embroidery to earn a little more money. In its initial five years, they were able to establish seven homes, a free school, and a nursery. The institute’s good works brought St. Francesto to the attention of Giovani Scalabrini and Pope Leo XIII.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini  holding a orphan baby in her arms, rocking him to sleep

In 1887, St. Frances went to seek the Pope’s approval to establish a mission in China. The Pope instead urged her to go to the United States and help with the Italian immigrants who were flooding there in great poverty. She arrived in New York on March 31 along with six other sisters. She encountered disappointments as the archbishop there was not immediately supportive; the archbishop found them housing at the convent of the Sisters of Charity and gave them permission to found the Sacred Heart Orphan Asylum in West Park, New York.

St. Frances organized catechism and education classes for the immigrants. They also provided for the needs of orphans. Even though the odds were against her, she managed to establish schools and orphanages. Not only was she prayerful, but she was also resourceful, as she managed to find people who would donate what she needed, be it money, time, or labor. She founded the Columbus Hospital in New York, which operated until its closure in 2008.

The sisters opened many hospitals in Chicago and 67 missionary institutions that served the sick and the poor. They offered their services in Chicago, New York, Seattle, New Orleans, Denver, Colorado, and many other cities. They also had these institutions in Latin America and Europe.

Her Death

At the age of 67, St. Frances died from malaria complications in Chicago, Illinois. Her body was exhumed in 1933, and the remains were divided as part of the process towards her sainthood; however, most of her body is at her shrine in New York. Her beatification miracle involved restoring the sight of a baby who had been blinded by silver nitrate solution.

When St. Frances was canonized, an estimated 120 000 people were present for a mass of thanksgiving.


St. Frances is the patron saint of immigrants and hospital administrators. She is also informally recognized as the effective intermediary for finding parking spaces, and this is because she lived in New York; therefore, she knows about the traffic there.

The sisters now operate in seventeen countries across the world.

She was venerated in the Roman Catholic Church, and she was canonized by Pope Pius XII in November 1938.

In the United States, her feast day is celebrated on November 13, and in the rest of the world, her feast day is December 22.

There are a lot of shrines, churches, hospitals, and educational institutions named in her honor across America, Italy, and England.

Starting in 2020, Colorado will rename its Columbus Day state holiday as “Cabrini Day.

6 Interesting Facts About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

  1. St. Frances was the first U.S. citizen to be canonized as a saint by
    the Roman Catholic Church.
  2. When St. Frances graduated from the Daughters of the Sacred Heart
    of Jesus, she graduated cum laude.
  3. The ministries she founded served the sick and the poor before the
    Government agencies provided extensive social services.
  4. St. Frances became a U.S. citizen in 1909.
  5. St. Frances’ dream of doing missionary work in China was
    fulfilled by the sisters long after her death; however, it was not for
    long as they had to leave after a religious upheaval there.
  6. She died while preparing Christmas candy for the local children.

Prayer to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, woman of God and disciple of Christ, offered the people you met the gifts of life and love by responding to their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in practical and creative ways. Inspired by your confidence in God and your compassion, love, and sense of justice, we ask you to accompany us as we work to respond to the urgent needs of our sisters and brothers fleeing their home countries in search of refuge and peace. Teach us. Pray for us. Amen