The Tablet Staff
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini’s statue will be built in Battery Park City on a spot facing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, a fitting place for the Italian-American saint, known as the “patroness of immigrants.”
The Dec. 13 announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo came months after campaigning by local Catholics for a public monument for Mother Cabrini.
“This memorial will honor the legacy of Mother Cabrini — a great New Yorker and Italian-American — and the commission chose a site that perfectly symbolizes her commitment to helping new Americans settle in the United States,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“We want this memorial to pay tribute to the charity and goodwill she spread to countless others in her lifetime, and I look forward to seeing the designs that the artists propose to capture that spirit of her generosity,” he said.
The funding and construction of the $750,000 project is being overseen by the Mother Cabrini Memorial Commission, a 19-member committee that includes Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, John Heyer of the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Italian apostolate and Joseph Sciame, president of the Sons of Italy Foundation.
“It’s a good thing that it’s resolved, finally with the state’s intervention,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “Hopefully it will be something that does give to Mother Cabrini the honor that she deserves.”
“The statue will be facing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, connecting Mother Cabrini’s mission of reaching out to the immigrants with the national story of immigration symbolized in the Statue of Liberty,” Heyer said.
Catholic New Yorkers had been calling for a public statue of Mother Cabrini after “She Built NYC,” a public arts initiative charged with increasing the number of statues of women in New York City, didn’t choose Mother Cabrini for the first phase of its project, even though Mother Cabrini received the most public nominations. Seven other women were selected instead.
Mother Cabrini, who was born in Italy in 1850 and died in Chicago in 1917, first came to the United States in 1889, settling in New York. She established 67 schools, hospitals and orphanages in the U.S., Europe and Central America, and is known especially for her work helping immigrants.
The commission plans to have the new statue placed by next October. Among the ideas for the new state design: having Mother Cabrini stand with children.
“Most of her work was with children either in the orphanages or in the schools,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “She did other work, too, but that would be appropriate.”
A public statue of Mother Cabrini has become a rallying point for many Catholics, and on Columbus Day on Oct. 14, Cuomo said New York state would build the statue after the city snubbed her.