The youngest of thirteen children, Frances Cabrini was born on July 15, 1850 in a small village called Sant'Angelo Lodigiano near the city of Milan, Italy. She grew up enthralled by the stories of missionaries and made up her mind to join a religious order.
Because of her frail health, she was not permitted to join the Daughters of the Sacred Heart who had been her teachers and under whose guidance she obtained her teaching certificate.
However, in 1880, with seven young women, Frances founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
She was as resourceful as she was prayerful, finding people who would donate what she needed in money, time, labor, and support.
She and her Sisters wanted to be missionaries in China and despite all obstacles; she visited Rome to obtain an audience with Pope Leo XIII.
The Pope told Frances to go "not to the East, but to the West" to New York rather than to China as she had expected. She was to help the thousands of Italian immigrants already in the United States.
In 1889, New York seemed to be filled with chaos and poverty, and into this new world stepped Mother Frances Cabrini and her Sister companions.
Cabrini organized catechism and education classes for the Italian immigrants and provided for the needs of the many orphans. She established schools and orphanages despite tremendous odds.
Soon, requests for her to open schools came to Frances Cabrini from all over the world. She traveled to Europe, Central and South America, and throughout the United States. She made 24 trans-Atlantic crossings and established 67 institutions: schools, hospitals, and orphanages.
Her activity was relentless until her death. On December 22, 1917, in Chicago, she died. In 1946, she was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XII in recognition of her holiness and service to mankind.
Today the Missionary Sisters, their lay collaborators, and volunteers work as teachers, nurses, social workers, administrators, and members of institutional boards of trustees.
They can be found on six continents and 17 countries throughout the world; wherever there is a need.
Cabrinian Institutions in the Stella Maris Province
Cabrini College (Radnor, PA) Cabrini honors its heritage, mission, and namesake at Cabrini Spirit Week.
Cabrini High School (New Orleans, LA)
Cabrini Hospital (Malvern, Victoria, Australia)
Cabrini Mission Foundation
Resources about Saint Cabrini
Mother Cabrini's Life Story (mothercabrini.org)
Frances Xavier Cabrini 1850–1917: Catholic Information Network
Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini: Patron Saint of Immigrants D'Addezio page by Deborah K. Millemaci