Today, we celebrate the 166th Birthday of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American citizen saint and the Patroness of Immigrants.
Maria Francesca Cabrini was born on July 15, 1850 in Sant’ Angelo Lodigiano, a small town on the plains of Lombardy, some twenty miles south of Milan. Two months premature, she was, at birth and throughout her life, of delicate health.
Her parents were Agostino and Stella Cabrini. She was their tenth child.
On that day, little did her parents know that this tiny child would grow to become a “religious leader, business administrator and spokesperson for the downtrodden.”
Having founded her own religious order in 1880, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mother Cabrini was always a woman of compassion. Her womaniless was immediately apparent beneath the checkered silk veil and the lace edged headcap she had chosen for her Institute. A bow at the chin and a cincture fringed with macrame’ partially softened her otherwise severe black garb. Her only other adornments were a simple silver cross and a gold ring. An aura of closeness to God emanated from the large blue eyes, which were the most distinctive physical feature of the diminutive Mother Cabrini. Her smile was warm, her manner usually gentle yet firm, her voice high with a bell like quality, her stride light and quick.
Frances Cabrini was very much a woman alone. Unlike the majority of religious foundress, she had not been selected by a bishop or priest to establish a Roman Catholic sisterhood in accord with clerically modeled plans. The plan was her own. The inspiration and intiative were heres and she bore the responsibility for conceiving and carrying out new ventures. She was not beholden to anyone in particular. This gave her freedom of action and enable her to accomplish deeds suggested by her clarity of vision and ardor of spirit. ~ Sr. Mary Louise Sullivan, MSC Ph. D. Mother Cabrini, Italian Immigrant of the Century