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Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Sain Frances Xavier Cabrini

Frances Cabrini, our University’s namesake, was born on July 15, 1850 in the small village of Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Italy. Enthralled by the stories of missionaries, she made up her mind to join a religious order.

Her dream was not easily acquired, as her frail health held her back from joining the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, the order who had been her teachers and mentors.

Undeterred, in 1880, Frances founded her own order with seven other young women—the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

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.

Mother Cabrini

On December 22, 1917, in Chicago, she died. In 1946, she was canonized a saint by PopePius XII in recognition of her holiness and service to mankind.

Today, the Missionary Sisters and their lay collaborator can be found on six continents and 17 countries throughout the world; wherever there is a need.

Discover more about Saint Frances’s life and indomitable spirit at mothercabrini.org.