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Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin
Feast Day (Memorial): November 13 (USA)
In the dioceses of the United States, on November 13 we celebrate the feast day (Memorial) of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, who is the patron saint of immigrants. Maria Francesca Cabrini was born in 1850 in northern Italy. Maria was the youngest of thirteen children. She was very small and weak as a child. But she was very religious. Maria’s father would tell his family many stories about the missionaries. Maria loved these stories, especially the stories about the missionaries who went to countries like China. Maria went to school to study to become a teacher. After teaching school for several years, Maria was asked to go to Codogno in Italy to be in charge of an orphanage for young girls. This was in 1874. Three years later, Maria professed religious vows. In religious life, Maria took the name Frances Xavier. Frances was a form of her middle name, Francesca. And she took the new middle name of Xavier after Saint Francis Xavier. On November 14, 1880, Sister Frances Xavier Cabrini founded a new religious order called the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As the head of this religious order, the other Sisters called her “Mother.” In 1888 Mother Cabrini started two missions in Rome, Italy. There she met a bishop who had just founded an institute to minister to Italians who had immigrated to other countries, and were now living outside Italy. Many of these Italians had immigrated to the United States. The bishop asked Mother Cabrini to leave Italy and become a missionary in the United States working with the Italian immigrants.
When Mother Cabrini arrived in the United States she couldn’t speak English, but she worked very hard to help the Italian immigrants. She founded orphanages for the Italian children whose parents had died. She also founded hospitals to care for the immigrants who were sick. In 1909 Mother Cabrini became a citizen of the United States. She died in Chicago on December 22, 1917. She was canonized a saint in 1946, and is the first citizen of the United States to be canonized a saint. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants, orphans and hospital administrators. She is a wonderful role model for us. Her life and good works remind us that we are all part of one world, and that we are always to welcome those who might be new to our country or city or school.
You can learn more about Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini from the video below, “The Immigrant Saint,” produced by America Magazine and narrated by Father James Martin, S.J. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini is also one of three saints the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops includes in its “Novena to Three American Saints for Life.”
Click on the image above to download our ICF Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini youth handout.
Click on the image above to download our ICF Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini fill-in-the-blank activity sheet.