The Catholic Defender: The St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Story.
September 25, 2019
The American frontier became a place where history was made when a young nation began to grow and expand. Despite Indian wars and the Civil War, there were many positives that accompanied the taming of a dangerous land. There were many Catholics who had a long reaching affect such as St. Rose Philippine Duchesne whose impact among the great Potawatomi Indians of Kansas brought peace and a love for Christ.
Another such great American who touched many through hardship and trials was that of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini. Youngest of thirteen children, Maria Francesca Cabrini was born July 15, 1850 premature, so from her beginning, St. Frances Cabrini was fragile in the body, yet her spirit was strong.
Her Mother was 52 years old when Frances Cabrini, despite her health issues and her aging parents, her Father instilled a love for God reading to his children the story of the Saints and the Missionary life. One of her quotes:
“Did a Magdalene, a Paul, a Constantine, an Augustine become mountains of ice after their conversion? Quite the contrary. We should never have had these prodigies of conversion and marvelous holiness if they had not changed the flames of human passion into volcanoes of immense love of God.”
Being raised in Italy, St. Frances Cabrini was raised a committed Catholic dedicating herself to Our Lady serving the Lord's people through the art of education.
Being instructed in the Faith through the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, St. Frances Cabrini had a special love for the Heart of Christ. She loved Jesus in the Eucharist to a heroic degree. From her early age she wanted to reach the world for Christ.
St. Frances Cabrini would echo St. Paul 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success but on Jesus alone."
At age 18, because of her fragile health, when she applied to join the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, she was declined.
Before the Blessed Lord, St. Frances Cabrini shed tears asking Our Lord what she would do when a priest took her in his wing teaching her from the House of Providence Ophanage in Cadagono, Italy.
It was here that St. Frances Cabrini first began teaching young girls their holy Catholic Faith. Because of her enthusiasm, word spread drawing women who also sought a religious way of life.
Through this time, St. Frances Cabrini learned the importance of prayer in her life saying, "Prayer is powerful, it fills the earth with mercy, it makes the Divine clemency pass from generation to generation; right along the course of the centuries wonderful works have been achieved through prayer."
In 1877 at age 27, with so many women following her, St. Frances Cabrini became Mother Cabrini after making her vows and took the religious habit. She took the name of Xavier in honor of St. Francis Xavier because of his evangelistic journey to the Far East.
The Bishop of Lodi charged Mother Cabrini and six of her Sisters to found the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Their purpose was to care for the poor children finding schools and hospitals. This would become the mission of her life. In her desire to evangelize the true faith, St. Frances Cabrini recognized, "If you are in danger, if your hearts are confused, turn to Mary; she is our comfort, our hope, turn towards her and you will be saved." Think about it, Mother Mary brings you deeper into the Sacred Heart of Jesus her Patronage!
After an audience with Pope Leo XIII, she was inspired to "Go to the United States.", and through the influence of Bishop Scalabrini, the founder of the Missionaries of Emigration, dedicated herself to go to America.
The Pope told her, "Not to the East, but to the West, Go to the United States."
As the Pope went to pray, " Mother Cabrini followed him with her eyes until he was out of sight; she was radiant with joy, for the Supreme Pontiff had promised her heaven if she continued her work."
In 1889 Mother Cabrini arrived in New York finding serious problems where she erected an orphanage, schools, clinics, homes, hospitals to help the poor.
By 1909, after growing her community to over 500 members in seventy houses established in all of the Americas, France, Spain, and England she became a legal citizen of the United States.
Despite her frail appearance, she had the energy of a tiger with the spirit of a lion. Crossing the Atlantic twenty-five times she lead by example and never accepted excuses for her weakness.
Of her travels, Mother Cabrini writes, "I travel, suffer my weak health, meet with a thousand difficulties, but all these are nothing, for this world is so small. To me, space is an imperceptible object, as I am accustomed to dwell in eternity."
It was while Mother Cabrini was in a Chicago hospital making dolls for orphans preparing for Christmas when Our Lady and an Angel appeared to her keeping her company as she thought about her thirty-seven years of serving Our Lord helping the poor. If she was concerned about if the Lord received her self-less service over the years, Our Lord was quick to assure His Daughter, Mother Cabrini. Jesus reminded her that what you did for the least of my people, you did for me.
December 22, 1917, with her death, Heaven's gates were opened to accept this great woman of faith. Cardinal Mundelein of Chicago conducted the funeral. In 1938, she was beautified by Pope Pius XI and Canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1946.