St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of “Mother Cabrini,” St. Frances Xabier Cabrini. Since I remembered very little about this saint, I looked her up when I realized that today was her feast day.

I was struck, as I read a short description on one website, by Mother Cabrini’s openness to God’s plan. When she was eighteen, what she wanted was to become a nun. But she was rejected because of her health, so she helped her parents until they died and then worked on their farm with her siblings. When she was asked by a priest to teach in a girls’ school, she said yes, doing that for six years. When she was asked by a Bishop to do so, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Despite her own desire to evangelize in China, when she was asked by a Bishop and then Pope Leo XIII to emigrate to the United States to minister to Italian immigrants, she did so.

I don’t get the sense that this was simply blind obedience out of any fear of authority. Rather, the picture that emerges of this saint is of a woman of deep faith and trust in God who discerned prayerfully how to respond to what was being asked of her. A woman who was willing to consider not only her own desires, but the needs of God’s people. And a woman of incredible courage.

Ultimately, Mother Cabrini became a citizen of the United States and in 1946 became the first American citizen canonized as a saint.

Mother Cabrini, pray for us!

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