In the United States, November 13th is the memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, or ‘Mother Cabrini’ (1850 – 1917) as she came to be known. From her earliest years, she was drawn to religious and missionary life. Although of frail health and strength – or perhaps because of such, as God works best through our weakness – she accomplished far more than one may have expected from her human frame. The first part of her apostolic life was spent in her native Italy, until, at the request of Pope Leo XIII, she traveled to the United States when just shy of her fortieth birthday, and went to become the first naturalized citizen of America to be canonized. She and her Sisters in the Order she founded – the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – worked with immigrants, especially Italians, mothers, the poor, in education, orphanages, health care, whatever really was needed in the maelstrom of this passing world.
At her death, she had founded 67 houses across America, Europe and South America, and her Order continues to thrive. She was canonized on July 7th, 1946 by Pope Pius XII, and is held in great veneration as a spiritual mother to all.
A final note: In a recent movement in New York city to honour women who helped ‘build the city’, the same city which first welcomed Sister Frances and millions of other immigrants, Mother Cabrini received the most votes in a poll of regular New Yorkers, a grand and good sign. Sadly, the will of the people – the sensus fidelium, if you will – was quashed by a panel, including the mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray. It seems their proclivities were to choose instead to a jazz musician and a drag queen, signifying the interesting priorities of the ‘elite’.
Ah, well, amare nesciri, as Saint Philip exhorted, love to be unknown. So long as God knows, and His truth will soon be shouted from the house – and apartment – tops.