October 17, 2008
Today is a very special day for Italians.....It is the feast of Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini - the very first American citizen to become a saint. And guess what? She was Italian!
Born Maria Francesca Cabrini in 1850, her health was bad from the beginning. She was brought straight to the church for baptism. No one ever thought she would lead a long life of tremendous influence.
In Italy, She lived in the village in Sant' Angelo on the outskirts of Lodi, about 20 minutes from Milan. As a child she dreamed of becoming a missionary. In play, all of her dolls became nuns. When she got older, she was schooled in Italy and graduated with honors as a teacher.
The rest of her life brought many travels around the world. At the age of 27, she took her vows and became the mother superior of an Italian orphanage. This was just the beginning of her influential social work.
In 1889, she was moved to New York without knowing a word of English. She learned the language and helped the Italians who had immigrated there already. In 1909, after years of teaching and caring for the sick, she fulfilled her desire to become an American citizen.
In her lifetime, she founded sixty-seven hospitals, orphanages, and schools around the world. Because of her social outreach to the Italians in both Italy and America, she is known widely as the patron saint of immigrants and schoolteachers.
Mother Cabrini has sent a strong message to Italian-Americans throughout her life and even now, after her death. She was undoubtedly a strong woman with a big heart who conquered many obstacles of her time for selfless reasons. It seems that what these strong women of history have in common is that they are always giving. All of the talents she acquired were used to help others.
Much like a mother, she ruled over her postulants, she cared for her sick 'children,' and she helped to teach people of all ages. So in her own way, Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini was a very special "una mamma italiana!"