At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Frances Xavier Cabrini – the first American saint

Missionary who was directed to the US by the Pope


Saint Frances was encouraged by the Pope to go to the United States to help Italian immigrants
Saint Frances was encouraged by the Pope to go
to the United States to help Italian immigrants
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, who founded a religious institute to provide support for impoverished Italian immigrants in the United States, was born on this day in 1850 in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, in Lombardy.

Frances went on to become the first naturalised citizen of the United States to be canonised in 1946.

She had been born into a family of cherry tree farmers, the youngest of 13 children. She was two months premature and remained in delicate health all her life.

After her parents died she applied for admission to the Daughters of the Sacred Heart but was told she was too frail for the life.

She became the headmistress of an orphanage in Codogno, about 30km (19 miles) from her home town, where she drew in other women to live a religious life with her.

She took religious vows in 1877, adding Xavier to her name to honour Francis Xavier, the patron saint of missionary service.

Along with some of the other women who had taken religious vows, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Frances went to seek Pope Leo X’s approval to establish missions in China but he suggested she went to the United States instead, to help the many Italian immigrants who were living in poverty.

The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus began to organise themselves soon after Frances arrived in New York
The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus began
to organise themselves soon after Frances arrived in New York
She arrived in New York in 1889 along with six other sisters and despite encountering difficulties she founded an orphanage there, which is now known as Saint Cabrini Home.

She also founded Columbus Hospital and Italian Hospital, which were merged into the Cabrini Medical Center in the 1980s.

In Chicago, she opened Columbus Extension Hospital in the heart of the city’s Italian community. Her name lives on today in Chicago’s Cabrini Street.

In total she founded 67 institutions in the United States, South America and Europe and became a naturalised US citizen in 1909.

Frances died at the age of 67 at Columbus Hospital in Chicago in 1917 and was interred at Saint Cabrini Home in New York.

But her body was exhumed in 1931 as part of the canonisation process. Her head is now preserved in the chapel of the congregation’s international motherhouse in Rome.

An arm is at a shrine in Chicago and most of her body is at a shrine in New York.

Frances was beatified in 1938 by Pope Pius XI and canonised in 1946 by Pope Pius XII.

Her beatification miracle involved restoring the sight and healing the disfigurements of a one-day-old baby. The same baby attended her canonisation ceremony years later and went on to become a priest.

Her canonisation miracle involved the healing of a terminally ill member of her congregation.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini is now the patron saint of immigrants and there are shrines, churches and educational establishments dedicated to Saint Frances all over the United States.

The Piazza della Vittoria in Lodi
The Piazza della Vittoria in Lodi
Travel tip:

Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, where Saint Frances was born, is a town in Lombardy in the province of Lodi. It is about 30 kilometres south east of Milan and about 12 kilometres south west of Lodi. Piazza della Vittoria, the main square in Lodi, features porticoes on all four sides and has been listed by the Italian Touring Club among the most beautiful squares in Italy.

Milan's Stazione Centrale was given the name Stazione Francesca Cabrini in 2010
Milan's Stazione Centrale was given the name Stazione
Francesca Cabrini in 2010
Travel tip:

Milan’s Central Station was renamed Stazione Francesca Cabrini in 2010 in memory of the patron saint of immigrants. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, explained at the time that ‘stations where people pass through who are far from home, often alone and therefore extremely fragile and exposed to dangers, are difficult places, and above all, are points of arrival and departure for migratory groups.’ Milano Centrale is one of the main railway stations in Europe. Its cornerstone was laid by King Victor Emmanuel III in Piazza Duca d’Aosta in 1906. The architect, Ulisse Stacchini, won the contest to design the station in 1912.




No comments:

Post a Comment