St. Francis Cabrini

November 13 [New] December 22 [Traditional]


The youngest of thirteen children of Augustine Cabrini, a farmer, and Stella Oldini, she was born on July 15 at Sant' Angelo Lodigiano, Italy, and christened Maria Francesca. She was destined to be a schoolteacher but when orphaned at eighteen, she decided to follow a religious life. She was refused by two communities, but in 1874 she was invited by Msgr. Serrati to take over a badly managed orphanage, House of Providence, at Codogno. Fierce opposition by its foundress, Antonia Tondini, eventually led to its closing by the bishop of Todi, who then invited Frances to found an institution. With seven followers, she moved into an abandoned Franciscan friary at Codogno and founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, devoted to the education of girls. The institute received the approval of the bishop in 1880 and soon spread to Grumello, Milan, and Rome. In 1889, Frances went to New York at the invitation of Archbishop Corrigan to work with Italian immigrants. During the next twenty-seven years, in the face of great obstacles, she traveled extensively and the congregation spread all over the United States [in 1892, it opened its first hospital, Columbus, in New York], Italy, South and Central America, and England. Its constitutions received final approval from the Holy See in 1907 [first approval had been in 1887], and by the time of her death in Chicago on December 22 there were more than fifty hospitals, schools, orphanages, convents, and other foundations in existence. She became an American citizen in 1909. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1946, the first American citizen to be so honored, and was named patroness of immigrants by Pius XII in 1950.



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