On Friday, June 11, despite setbacks and rejections by the New York City public-arts committee called “She Built NYC” (a group supposedly dedicated to recognizing the historical impact of women in the creation of our city), a statue of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini was unveiled and blessed by Bishop DiMarzio.
When New Yorkers were asked by She Built NYC what women helped to make the city great, Mother Cabrini received the largest number of votes. Despite this, the committee decidedagainst a statue in honor of Mother Cabrini.
The Diocese of Brooklyn was able to raise over $40,000 in donations to create a beautiful statue of the Saint in front of her parish, Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen Church in Carroll Gardens. It is a testimony to the life and apostolic service of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini and the love and devotion of so many people to this holy woman who was an educator, an immigrant from Italy who became an American citizen, and an advocate of immigrant rights.
So what makes Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini so special?
First, Mother Cabrini was the founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1880. This community of religious sisters still serves today around this nation and the world. Their main goal is to inspire devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of the Lord Jesus by performing spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
Second, Mother Cabrini (who wanted to go to China with her Sisters to be a missionary) was specifically sent to the U.S. as a missionary by Pope Leo XIII to help with the rapidly growing number of Italian immigrants in this nation. The Holy Father, Pope Leo, told Mother Cabrini: “Not the East, but the West,” and so she came to America.
Third, Mother Cabrini worked right here in New York! She and six other sisters arrived in our city and founded an orphanage, schools, and a hospital. Their good work spread through this city, our country, and the world.
Fourth, Mother Cabrini became an American citizen in 1909. Sadly, she died in 1917 while serving in Chicago. She was beatified by Pope Pius XI and canonized a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1946. Mother Cabrini is the first American citizen to ever be canonized a saint.
Fifth, Mother Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants. We are the diocese of immigrants and are blessed by their presence.
Sixth, Mother Cabrini is right here in New York City. Not only can one visit the beautiful new statue in Carroll Gardens, not only can one attend holy Mass in the parish named after her on 86th Street in Brooklyn, but one can even visit her in the Bronx — at 701 Fort Washington Avenue near Fort Tryon Park — where her body is kept for veneration. What a wonderful place for a personal or a parish pilgrimage.
Seventh and finally, Mother Cabrini is the unofficial patron saint of finding a parking space.
For all these reasons, we are blessed by the dedication of the statue of Mother Cabrini in Carroll Gardens. We know that she is one of the many great women that built New York City and we hope to get more people to know all about her!