Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (Mother Cabrini) (1850–1917)

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (Mother Cabrini) (1850–1917)

Patron saint of immigrants, and of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart

Feast day: November 13

Francesca Cabrini was born in northern Italy in 1850, the youngest of 13 or more children. As a child she dreamed of being a missionary to faraway lands. When she was 18, she tried to join a religious community, but was turned away because of her poor health. She taught for a while, and then went to work at an orphanage.

At age 30 she took the name of the great missionary Francis Xavier and founded her own religious order. As the head of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, she was called Mother Cabrini. She wanted to travel to China, but when she met Pope Leo XIII to get his approval he sent her to America to help provide pastoral care to the thousands of Italian immigrants settled there.

Mother Cabrini and six other sisters arrived in New York in 1889, and soon founded an orphanage for Italian American children. In spite of poor health, a fear of ocean travel, and many other obstacles, Mother Cabrini eventually opened 67 schools, orphanages, and hospitals across the United States, as well as in Latin America, France, Spain, and England.

Mother Cabrini made good use of the Holy Spirit's gifts of wisdom, understanding, right judgment, and courage to serve people who were in need. She became a citizen of the United States in 1909 and was canonized in 1946, the first American citizen to be proclaimed a saint. Her feast day is November 13. (Taken from The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth.) 

(Image in public domain-70)