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  • Writer's pictureAllison Bobzien

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Bold, compassionate, and indomitable. This is how I would describe Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American citizen made a saint and the patron saint of immigrants. Though Mother Cabrini endured frail health throughout her life, she served others and the Lord with passion and energy. As a child she was determined to become a missionary to China, but her poor health meant she was unable to join the order she had intended.

Undaunted by this setback, Mother Cabrini founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She still longed to travel to China to begin her mission work, but the Pope asked that she embark to America to serve the Italian immigrant population. With scarcely any funds or support, Saint Cabrini established orphanages, schools, hospitals, and religious education centers for the immigrant populations across North and South America. Her Italian heritage served her well in ministering to the immigrants in America; she even gained citizenship in the States towards the end of her life. Mother Cabrini felt that all action should be the outpouring of a rich prayer life, writing “I trust in you, my Jesus. I place my poor soul in your hands – mold me according to your divine will.”

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini’s life serves as a beautiful example of action fueled by prayer. Though she experienced what many would consider insurmountable odds at various times throughout her ministry, she placed her trust firmly in the Lord, pivoted her plans when necessary, and continued onwards to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God.

Her writing encourages us to similar action as she states, “Today love must not be hidden, it must be living, active, and true!” Saint Cabrini lived her faith and love boldly and spurred others on to do so as well. Her work with the immigrant populations cared not only for their physical needs, but also their spiritual and emotional longings.

In a nation that was once a melting pot of immigrants, how are we serving the immigrant population today? How are we welcoming the stranger? How are we praying for them and taking action to meet their needs?

A beautiful prayer written by Catholic Relief services speaks to this perfectly, “God of our wandering ancestors, I am an immigrant, a refugee, an exile from heaven. You made America a place of immigrants and inspired Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini and her sisters, welcoming and comforting the immigrant, helping to make this nation a home for our children… May it be said of me that, like Mother Cabrini, I treated the stranger not as an alien, but as a brother or a sister, greeting them with an embrace and a song of joy.”

For further information on Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini and her order’s ongoing mission work check out: and .

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