On July 7, the 75th anniversary of the canonization of Mother Cabrini, the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan opened two exhibits in honor of the patroness of immigrants and hospital administrators.
Mother Cabrini was canonized on July 7, 1946 by Pope Pius XII.
On Saturday, July 17, retired Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh will offer an 11 a.m. Mass commemorating the canonization anniversary. Later at 2 p.m., retired Auxiliary Bishop Josu Iriondo will offer the anniversary Mass in Spanish. The shrine is at 701 Fort Washington Ave.
“The canonization itself was the first after World War II, and Mother Cabrini was the first U.S. citizen ever to be entered into the catalogue of saints. It was a big deal!” Julia Attaway, executive director of the New York shrine, told Catholic New York last week. "The ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica was attended by 50,000 people, including 600 of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the order Mother Cabrini founded.
“Here in New York, a Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Spellman in the chapel of Mother Cabrini High School, which was where her remains rested until the shrine opened in 1959...Her birthday is July 15; we will hold a Mass at noon on that day. But our big celebration is on the following Saturday, the 17th."
The two exhibits, as outlined by Ms. Attaway, are:
The Canonization Exhibit, which features memorabilia, two videos (one in English, one in Spanish), enlarged photos of the ceremony itself (Rome was in the midst of a heat wave, and one can see a candle on the high altar tilting in the heat). The videos include newsreel footage of the crowds that gathered outside to venerate her relics on the day of the canonization. This exhibit will be mounted through the end of this year.
The Pop-Up Museum, which features items Mother Cabrini owned and used. Open through the end of August, it includes a bed, a rocking chair, a prie dieu, a dresser, a habit, shoes (and socks), and linens containing her laundry mark. It is open on weekends and by appointment, mainly because shrine administrators need to have someone monitor it "because people get so excited they want to sneak past the barriers to sit on Mother Cabrini’s chair or lie on her bed!" Ms. Attaway said.
“Mother Cabrini was born in Italy and arrived in New York City in 1889, with the express purpose of helping struggling Italians who had arrived here during the second great wave of immigration. At the time, the U.S. was still considered mission territory. Because most of the Italians who came here were uneducated and unskilled, they ended up with the worst and most dangerous jobs, and lived in miserable housing. There were few priests who spoke Italian at the time.”
Mother Cabrini established schools, orphanages and medical facilities in New York and other U.S. cities. She was born July 15, 1850 in what is now Lombardy, Italy. She died Dec. 22, 1917 in Chicago at age 67. Her feast day is Nov. 13. It was on that day in 1938 that she was beatified by Pope Pius XI. The National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is in Chicago. The Mother Cabrini Shrine is in Golden, Colo.
The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are still active in ministering to migrants and refugees around the world, In New York, they operate the Cabrini Immigrant Services at two locations, one of which is at the shrine, where they facilitate free legal consultations about immigration issues.
“Because St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants, we get many visitors from across the city, the country and even the world,” Ms. Attaway said.