Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini
By Makayla and Dan White
St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, the first US citizen to be canonized, was born in Saint’Angelo Lodigiano, Lombardi, Italy on July 15,1850. She was one of eleven children born to Agostino Cabrini and Stella Oldini. Born two months premature she struggled with her health her entire life. Sadly she was one of only four children to her parents that lived past their adolescence. Her parents were cherry tree farmers and Francis worked hard for them until they passed away in 1870. Her parents worked hard to plant and nurture Faith into her life, she remembered her mother praying fervently at the beginning and end of each day, this created a deep love and understanding of prayer in Francis’ life.
She spent her adolescent summers with her older sister Rosa and uncle, Father Luigi Oldini and through their examples she grew more in her Faith and love of the Lord. During these summers she also developed an affinity towards teaching, which was Rosa’s chosen profession. She chose to study with the Daughters of the Sacred Heart to become a teacher. It was here where her love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus grew to an immeasurable state and upon completion of her studies she requested to become a sister. Unfortunately she was denied and became a teacher. After a few years, and another rejection at becoming a religious she was hired at House of Providence in Codogno, an orphanage, where in 1877, after many trials, she took her religious vows with five other women. Here in the House she was made Superior and at that time suffered much slander from others and in 1880 lost hope and turned the orphanage into a Convent. This covenant and new order; Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus grew and Francis found her self in Rome founding two new houses. She loved the missions and tried to start a mission field in China but Pope Leo XII instructed her “not to the east but to the west” and on March 31, 1989 Francis found herself in New York on a mission to the Italian immigrants. Here among her many accomplishments she founded orphanages and hospitals; 67 institutions in all ranging from New York to Los Angeles. On December 22, 1917 St Francis Xavier Cabrini went home to be with the Bridegroom, and on November 13, 1938 she was beatified. Her canonization was July 7, 1946 by Pope Pius XII and her body is partially incorrupt.
Can you imagine, a life so dedicated to our Lord’s Sacred Heart that you would willingly give up your own life, your friends, and travel a world away from your family? For what, the sick, the poor, the orphans? St. Francis did just that; she heard the call from our Lord and answered. She carried the cross of frailty and yet was such an influence on so many people. She founded a religious order that is alive and thriving today. There are still buildings with her name almost 100 years after her death because of the influence she had on so many. What can we glean from her example? We could start by prioritizing our life in such a way that we take time to fervently listen in prayer to what the Lord wants from us. She is yet another example of a Saint who was given a skill set and used those skills not for her own lavish lifestyle but for God.
We could, through her example, devote ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and begin to try to understand how he looks at even the weakest among us. As the patron saint of immigrants she is an excellent prayer partner for an area such as Saint Anthony’s. A church that was built by immigrants just five years before St. Francis Cabrini passed from this life. Our very prayer of our 100 years of celebration implores the Lord to draw near people as he once drew waves of immigrants to St. Anthony’s. She was the first American citizen to be canonized which is proof that with some devotion and the ability to listen and heed the call of our Lord there’s hope for us! We should all strive to live our lives in a way that when our descendants look back they can say that we lived our life in a way that was obvious to the fact that we wanted to live forever with our Bridegroom, Jesus.