St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Feast Day: November 13
Born: 1850 :: Died: 1917
Frances was born at Lombardy in Italy. She was one of thirteen children and was raised on a farm. As a child, she dreamed about being a missionary to China. She sailed paper boats down a stream to play her "pretend game."
The paper boats were ships taking missionaries to China. And she began giving up candy because in China, she probably wouldn't be able to have any.
But when she grew up, Frances was not accepted into the two convents that she asked to join. Her health was not too good, so she taught at girl's school for six years.
Then a priest asked her to help out in a small home for orphans. Things were very hard for Frances because of the lady who ran the house. Yet Frances stuck to the work, and some other generous women joined her. Together they took vows.
At last the bishop told Frances to begin her own congregation of missionary nuns, which Frances did without hesitation. This congregation is called the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
Soon it began to grow, first in Italy and then in many other countries. Frances, whom everyone called Mother Cabrini, had always had her heart set on going to China. But it seemed that God wanted her to come to America.
When Pope Leo XIII told her, "Go west, not east," the matter was settled. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini sailed for the United States and became an American citizen. She helped large numbers of Italian immigrants and was like their real mother and friend.
Mother Cabrini and her sisters found things very difficult in the beginning. The archbishop of New York even suggested that they go back to Italy. But Mother Cabrini answered, "Your excellency, the pope sent me here and here I must stay."
The archbishop admired her pioneer spirit, and so she and her sisters were allowed to begin their great work for God. Schools, hospitals, and homes for children were opened up in different states.
As the years passed, Mother Cabrini made many trips to spread her congregation and its works. She founded 67 institutions, and there were always difficulties, but she put all her trust in the Sacred Heart. "It is he who is doing everything, not us," she would say.
Mother Cabrini died in Chicago on December 23, 1917.
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