Saturday, November 13, 2010

Feast Day: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Today is the feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first US citizen canonized.  Born the 13th child into a prosperous Italian farm family, Frances Xavier (whose patron, St. Francis Xavier, was the missionary she wanted to be) was asked to organize and run orphanages for Italian children.  Altho she would have prefered the life of a missionary to the far-east, she stayed in Italy and opened orphanages, schools and convents all over her country, using her newly founded Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to staff the facilities.

She was so successful within Italy, that Pope Leo XIII asked her to go to the United States and help the Italian immigrants who had left poverty in their homeland to travel to the distant western continent.  In 1889, she arrived in New York with seven other sisters and began her work of building and bettering the lives of not only the Italian immigrants, but of all immigrants.  Mother Cabrini now extended her activities to westward: Newark, Scranton, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, all became familiar territory. In Colorado she visited the mining camps, where the high rate of fatal accidents left an unusually large number of fatherless children to be cared for. Wherever she went men and women began to take constructive steps for the remedying of suffering and wrong, so powerful was the stimulus of her personality. Her warm desire to serve God by helping people, especially children, was a steady inspiration to others and the establishment of each school, orphanage or convent seemed touched by the miraculous, for the necessary funds generally materialized in some last-minute, unexpected fashion.

In 1909, at the age of 59, Mother Cabrini became a naturalized US citizen.  In 1917, coming back from a trip west, she stopped in Chicago.  Worn out by her never-ceasing work, Mother Cabrini succumbed to a recurrence of malaria and died.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, missionary in your homeland and missionary to your adopted country, you worked tirelessly for the poor and downtrodden, the sorrowful and lonely.  Watch over us all as we go about our days:  Help us to see Christ in the less fortunate as you so readily did.  Help us to love as you so readily did.  Help us to work till we drop, always willingly obeying God's wishes for us.  St. Frances Cabrini, pray for us!


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