Saint Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini

April 21 – Saint Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini

Last week I went to the showing of “Cabrini,” at the local Windsor Theater. This is a dramatized movie about the Italian missionary nun and Catholic Saint, Francis Xavier Cabrini, more commonly referred to simply as “Mother Cabrini.”

Mother Cabrini was a very influential missionary in the United States as well as the rest of the world. She desired to be a missionary to China, but Pope Leo XIII told her to go “not East, but West,” which she did, attending to the needs of poor immigrants in the United States. Due to various factors, there was a great influx of both Irish and Italian immigrants leaving their homeland to seek a better life in the United States. A great majority were Catholics. Despite seeking a better life, these immigrants faced great obstacles, due to prevailing anti-immigration and anti-Catholic attitudes in the United States at that time.

Thus, in caring for these poor immigrants, Mother Cabrini and her nuns also faced great obstacles and hardship. Mother Cabrini also had the personal obstacle of fragile health most of her life. Overall, the movie Cabrini does demonstrate well her love and care for the poor, as well as her incredible perseverance through the many hardships that she faced.

Yet while well done and inspiring, my one critique is that the movie did not demonstrate well that her endless perseverance, energy, and strength came from her faith in God and from prayer. Many who knew Mother Cabrini said how she always seemed reinvigorated with new energy after time in prayer. Whenever she came out of the chapel she seemed to be transfigured and glow with a new light and life. Mother Cabrini drew strength from Christ, and daily on her lips were the words of St. Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This became her personal motto and later, the motto of the Institute of Missionary Sisters.

Once an Italian Bishop commented, “Mother Cabrini … knows how to raise [the other nuns] to God vastly heightening their ability by making them depend not on themselves, but on an energy outside themselves.”

Mother Cabrini indeed constantly encouraged her fellow Missionary Sisters to depend on God. She told them, “Nothing is ever to daunt you. You are to press on, not of yourselves, but under obedience. I have already learned that whenever I have failed in any undertaking, it is because I trusted too much in my own powers. None of us will fail if we leave everything in the hands of God. Under Him, the question of ‘possible’ and ‘impossible’ ceases to have any meaning.”

I hope the movie “Cabrini” inspires people to learn more about this incredible Catholic Saint. If you would like to learn more, I would highly encourage the biography, “Too small a world,” by Theodore Maynard (I am currently reading it myself!).


– Fr. Kevin