St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, first American saint

Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colo. Photo: John Gibson
Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini. Photo: Public Domain.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850–1917) was an Italian-American religious sister who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She is the patron saint of immigrants. In honor of her feast day on Nov. 13, here are five facts about St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first citizen of the United States to be canonized

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini became a naturalized United States citizen in 1909. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII on July 7, 1946. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born United States citizen to be canonized, was not canonized until 1975.

Alongside seven other women in 1880, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Mother Cabrini wrote the Rule and constitution of the institute and led it as its superior general until her death. Mother Cabrini organized catechism classes for Italian immigrants, and established orphanages and schools.

Her feast day is technically Dec. 22

A saint’s feast day is typically the date of their death. (Dec. 22 for Mother Cabrini.) However, in the United States her memorial is instead celebrated on Nov. 13, the date of her beatification by Pope Pius XI in 1938.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini founded one institution for each year of her life

Mother Cabrini struggled with poor health since her childhood. However, she lived to age 67. She established 67 institutions during her life including hospitals.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini has been honored in many ways since her death

In 1996, Mother Cabrini was listed in the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. In 1998, the Cabrini Mission Foundation was founded to support the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Stella Maris Province which encompasses the United States, Africa, the Philippines, and Australia.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for us!

The Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colorado, was one of several sites that Catholic Digest profiled in its special travel issue, “20 Travel Destinations in the United States.” Learn more about the shrine here

To order copies of the special issue, click here


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