November 13, 2015

November 13, 2015: Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin and Foundress

St. Francis Xavier Cabrini
Today the dioceses in the United States celebrate the memorial of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, virgin, born in Lombardy, Italy, one of thirteen children. She came to America as a missionary, founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals. She is the first American citizen to be canonized.
I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.
— St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

The day of her confirmation on August 1, 1858, Frances experienced an epiphany. When anointed with the chrism oil she felt transformed. She said later, "From that moment, I was no longer of the earth... I knew the Holy Ghost had come to me." Having heard the stories of the missionaries all her life, she now wanted to become a missionary in China. When she brought up the idea to Rosa, (out of concern for her frail and sickly sister) Rosa scolded Frances saying "You, so little and ignorant, how dare you think of becoming a missionary?" Frances would have to wait for Divine Providence to bring about her dream.

Read more about the life and vocation of St. Francis Cabrini.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini: A Missionary at Heart

This saint, the first United States citizen to be canonized, was born in Italy of parents who were farmers. She was the thirteenth child, born when her mother was fifty-two years old. The missionary spirit was awakened in her as a little girl when her father read stories of the missions to his children. She received a good education, and at eighteen was awarded the normal school certificate.

For a while she helped the pastor teach catechism and visited the sick and the poor. She also taught school in a nearby town, and for six years supervised an orphanage assisted by a group of young women. The bishop of Lodi heard of this group and asked Frances to establish a missionary institute to work in his diocese. Frances did so, calling the community the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. An academy for girls was opened and new houses quickly sprang up.

One day Bishop Scalabrini, founder of the Missionaries of Emigration, described to Mother Cabrini the wretched economical and spiritual conditions of the many Italian immigrants in the United States, and she was deeply moved. An audience with Pope Leo XIII changed her plans to go to the missions of the East. "Not to the East, but to the West," the Pope said to her. "Go to the United States." Mother Cabrini no longer hesitated. She landed in New York in 1889, established an orphanage, and then set out on a lifework that comprised the alleviation of every human need. For the children she erected schools, kindergartens, clinics, orphanages, and foundling homes, and numbers of hospitals for the needy sick. At her death over five thousand children were receiving care in her charitable institutions, and at the same time her community had grown to five hundred members in seventy houses in North and South America, France, Spain, and England.

The saint, frail and diminutive of stature, showed such energy and enterprise that everyone marveled. She crossed the Atlantic twenty-five times to visit the various houses and institutions. In 1909 she adopted the United States as her country and became a citizen. After thirty-seven years of unflagging labor and heroic charity she died alone in a chair in Columbus Hospital at Chicago, Illinois, while making dolls for orphans in preparation for a Christmas party. Cardinal Mundelein of Chicago officiated at her funeral and in 1938 also presided at her beatification by Pius XI. She was canonized by Pius XII in 1946. She lies buried under the altar of the chapel of Mother Cabrini High School in New York City.

Excerpted from A Saint A Day, Berchmans Bittle, O.F.M.Cap.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is the patroness of: hospital administrators; immigrants; and orphans.

Collect Prayer

God our Father, who called Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy to serve the immigrants of America, by her example, teach us to have concern for the stranger, the sick, and all those in need, and by her prayers help us to see Christ in all the men and women we meet. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini - Bringing Christ to the World

Mother Cabrini wrote the following advice for dealing with sadness in a letter to one of her fellow sisters:
Why, dearest daughter, do you waste time in sadness when time is so precious for the salvation of poor sinners? Get rid of your melancholy immediately. Don’t think any more about yourself. Do not indulge in so many useless and dangerous reflections. Keep your gaze fixed on the summit of perfection where Christ awaits you.
For the short time that remains, is it worthwhile to lose yourself in melancholy like those who think only of themselves as if all were to end with this life? We do not yet know the infinite value of every minute employed for the glory of God. Carry your cross then, but carry it joyfully. Think that Jesus loves you very much. May the heart of Jesus bless you and make you holy not as you want but as he desires.

A Prayer for Peace of Mind 

(by St. Francis Xavier Cabrini)

Fortify me with the grace of Your Holy Spirit and give Your peace to my soul that I may be free from all needless anxiety, solicitude and worry. Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to You so that Your will may be my will. Amen. 

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