November 13

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Born two months prematurely on 15 July 1850 and dying on 22 December1917, St Frances Xavier Cabrini was born Maria Francesca Cabrini. Shewas the youngest of thirteen children, and her parents were farmers. Ofthe thirteen children born to her parents, only four of them survivedbeyond adolescence. Because of her premature birth, she had delicatehealth throughout her life.

She is also known as Mother Cabrini, and she was a Roman Catholic Nunwho was 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 death, she applied tobe admitted to the Daughters of the Sacred Heart at Arluno. She wasapplying to join her former teachers, and unfortunately, they werereluctant, and they told her that’s she was too frail for their life.

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

Missionary Work

St Frances was the founding member of the Missionary Sisters of theSacred Heart of Jesus. This is a catholic religious institute that was asignificant support to her fellow Italian immigrants who were moving tothe United States of America. It was founded in 1880 in collaborationwith other seven women. St. Frances composed the rules and constitutionof this religious institute, and she was its superior general up untilthe time of her death.

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

In 1887, St. Frances went to seek the Pope’s approval to establish amission in China. The Pope instead urged her to go to the United Statesand help with Italian immigrants who were flooding there in greatpoverty. She arrived in New York on 31 March along with six othersisters. She encountered disappointments as the archbishop there was notimmediately supportive; the archbishop found them housing at the conventof the sisters of Charity and gave them permission to found the SacredHeart Orphan Asylum in West Park New York.

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

The sisters opened many hospitals in Chicago and 67 missionaryinstitutions that served the sick and the poor. They offered theirservices in Chicago, New York, Seattle, New Orleans, Denver, Coloradoand many other cities. They also had these institutions in Latin Americaand Europe.

Her Death

At the age of 67, St. Frances died from malaria complications inChicago, Illinois. Her body was exhumed in 1933 and the remains weredivided as part of the process towards her sainthood, however most ofher body is at her shrine in New York. Her beatification miracleinvolved restoring the sight of a baby who had been blinded by silvernitrate solution.

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


St Frances is the patronage saint of immigrants and hospitaladministrators. She is also informally recognized as the effectiveintercessor for finding parking space, and this is because she lived inNew 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 byPope Pius XII in November 1938.

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

There are a lot of shrines, churches, hospitals and educationalinstitutions named in her honour across America, Italy and England.

Starting in 2020, Colorado renamed its Columbus day state holiday asCabrini 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 the 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, disciple of Christ, youoffered the people you met the gifts of life and love by responding totheir physical, emotional and spiritual needs in practical and creativeways.Inspired by your confidence in God and your compassion, love and senseof justice, we ask you to accompany us as we work to respond to theurgent needs of our sisters and brothers fleeing their home countries insearch of refuge and peace.Teach us. Pray for us. Amen