The Papal Artifacts’ Collection is primarily dedicated to artifacts connected to the papacy. Individual popes, their biographies and multiple items belonging to them, including first and second class relics, make up the majority of this Collection. But that isn’t all it is.
Father Kunst has a deep devotion to the saints as can be readily seen in viewing the Saints & Blesseds section of this site. We invite you to visit Papal History/Saints & Blesseds to view the many canonized and beatified men and women who make up this section of the Collection.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, America’s first saint, is one of them.
When Frances Xavier Cabrini arrived in New York from her home in Italy, her experience mirrored that of many immigrants in this world: she was told to go home.
A house that was promised for her and her sisters by the Archdiocese of New York was no longer available, and the archbishop insisted she return to Italy. She refused. Improvised housing was found, and she and her sisters went to work scrambling (even begging) for funds, overcoming hardship after hardship, to ultimately found 67 institutions (in the US alone) to serve the poor, the uneducated, the sick, the abandoned, and especially the immigrant.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, widely known as “Mother Cabrini,” whose feast day we celebrate on November 13. It feels like no coincidence that the centennial of her death falls this year, when Pope Francis launched Share the Journey, a global campaign inviting people around the world to love our immigrant and refugee neighbors, because Mother Cabrini is a patron saint of immigrants.
Born in Italy in 1850, Frances Xavier Cabrini is the first American to be canonized. She was the thirteenth child of a moderately prosperous Lombardi farmer. Having run an orphanage in northern Italy for three years after becoming a nun in 1877, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her intention was to do missionary work in China, but Pope Leo XIII requested that she travel to the United States to minister to Italian immigrants.
Frances arrived in New York in 1889 and immediately began to open orphanages and other institutions, both hospitals and schools. Her first orphanage, the St. Cabrini Home, was in Ulster County.
She became an American citizen in 1909. Her work was never restricted to the United States. She traveled widely across Central and South America as well as making numerous return visits to Europe. In all, she oversaw the opening of sixty-seven institutions.
At her canonization on July 7, 1946, Pius XII said,
Although her constitution was very frail, her spirit was endowed with such singular strength that, knowing the will of God in her regard, she permitted nothing to impede her from accomplishing what seemed beyond the strength of a woman.
Located in northern Manhattan, St. Frances Cabrini Shrine overlooks the banks of the Hudson River and the neighboring state of New Jersey. The Chapel houses the most precious remains of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.
After her death in 1917, Mother Cabrini was buried in West Park, New York. In 1933, her remains were moved to the chapel of Mother Cabrini High School. Following Mother Cabrini’s canonization in 1946, there were so many pilgrims coming to pray that a new shrine was built in 1957 on the grounds of Mother Cabrini High School.
Today, the Shrine continues as a center of welcome for new immigrants and pilgrims of many nationalities who come to pray and reflect. Also, the shrine serves the young women attending Mother Cabrini High School as a place for their liturgies and special prayer services. It is a place where they can go to rest and be nourished.
Her feast day is celebrated on November 13.
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Pray for Us!
A Tribute to Mother Cabrini in Music:
Cantate al Signore, Alleluia by Marco Frisina