. . from that moment I was no longer of the earth . . . I knew the Holy Ghost had come to me,” St. Frances Xavier Cabrini said (from the online Catholic Saints web site).
St. Frances was born in 1850, in Lombardi, Italy. She was one of 13 children raised on a farm and hoped that someday she might become a nun, but poor health stopped her. She continued to work as a farm hand until the death of her parents. At the age of 27 she took her formal religious vows and began her work of charity.
Her first hand was lent to the orphans of Lombardi. Since there were no missionaries offered to women, St. Frances founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1880. Pope Leo XIII saw Mother Cabrini as “a woman of marvelous intuition and of great sanctity.”
In 1889, Mother Cabrini relocated with six nuns to New York City and began to help the needy immigrants; most immigrants had relocated from Italy.
Mother Cabrini traveled throughout Europe and the Americas for the next 25 years and founded many hospitals, convents, and orphanages. She opened institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Panama, Paris, Madrid, Turin and London. Her houses, which held over 1.500 nuns, aided the sick, poor, illiterate and unskilled workers.
In 1909, Mother Cabrini became a naturalized citizen. In 1946, Pope Pius XII canonized her and she became the first American to become a saint. Dec. 22, 1917, Mother Cabrini died in Chicago, Illinois. In 1950 she was named the patron saint of immigrants.
St. Frances Cabrini’s feast day is Nov. 13.