Mother Cabrini’s Death

Mother Cabrini died in Chicago on December 22, 1917. She dies peacefully, and according to one of her earliest biographers, Mother Saverio de Maria, MSC, her “post-mortem face reassumed almost immediately its natural color, and it remained so for the 12 days she lay in state.”

Mother Cabrini laid out for viewing 

The telegram went out to all of the missions: “Mother has flown to heaven.”

Mother Cabrini’s Funeral Cortege

Mother Cabrini’s body lay in state in Chicago’s Columbus Hospital until December 26. Following a requiem Mass, the funeral cortege headed to the train station, where the Pullman Car Company generously provided a mortuary car “richly adorned with flowers of the season” for the journey to New York. Because of heavy snow, the trip took two days and two nights.

In New York, Mother Cabrini’s body lay in state until December 31, and Masses were said almost continually by a stream of priests and prelates. A Requiem was celebrated by His Excellency John Bonzano, the Apostolic Delegate, with many notable dignitaries present.

Missionary Sisters at the Mausoleum at West Park

The Burial of Mother Cabrini at West Park, New York

The following morning Mother Cabrini’s remains were conveyed to West Park, New York. This was the site of a large orphanage, and where she had expressed interest in being buried. A hundred orphans dressed in white, each holding a fresh lily, created a circle around her body.

Orphans at West Park

The simple notice issued by the Missionary Sisters remembered her as a “noble heroine of charity.”

At the time of Mother Cabrini’s death the order there were over a thousand active Missionary Sisters spread across the world; about 400 were based in the the United States.

Excerpts from the Eulogy

Translation of the eulogy of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini by the Very Rev. Msgr. Gherardo Ferrante

There was a good, amiable, virtuous Mother, one of the dearest ever here below. She had a heart as great as misery, and suffering humanity was her family. In the immensity of her generous heart, she extended her arms from the extreme shores of the Pacific to the coast of the Mediterranean, and she gathered the orphan, the abandoned and the destitute. Her name resounded blessed, and she was venerated in Argentina, in Brazil, in the Unites States, in Spain, in England, in France, in Italy, and even in the halls of the Church’s Supreme Pontiff.

But on the 22nd of December, 1917, a cry of sorrow is heard in Chicago, and throughout the civilized world – “The good, amiable, virtuous Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini is dead.” Thousands and thousands of orphans, thousands and thousands of hearts, tender their tribute of sorrow to the illustrious departed. Charity, saddened and grieved, sits at her bier, and weepingly places a garland of roses upon her mortal remains…

Dear friends, as the events are measured by the epochs, so are great souls. You are well aware the world sympathizes little with religion; it yearns for new ideals of social and religious order: it proclaims liberty but it has forgotten that liberty does not exist without God. Humanity was always a slave in the temple of the “Goddess Reason.” Human philosophy in the course of so many centuries was never able to dry a tear, or to console an afflicted heart. Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini saw the spectre of atheism, and as another Catherine of Siena she goes forth to the battle, fights like a heroine, and wins in the amphitheatre of charity…

And now this remarkable woman, this valiant apostle who for 37 years unreservedly dedicated herself to the welfare of humanity, lies a corpse, but as she will live immortal in the minds and hearts of all, we will pray for her eternal rest…

She, faithful to the voice of heaven, embraced the cross and undertook her journey in the endless way of perfection…. She, on the 22nd of December 1917, reached the end of her pilgrimage—the summit of Calvary; there, the Immaculate Spouse opened the eternal doors of the nuptial banquet of sanctity and glory; and there she awaits you. There she rejoices and prays for you, that the Sacred Heart will illuminate and inspire your mind and heart to continue the glorious mission of your Mother, to spread and extend the Kingdom of Christ, which is the Kingdom of love, the Kingdom of truth.

Condolences From Around the Globe

In 1918 the Missionary Sisters compiled a book of the discourses, condolences, testimonials and press releases received after Mother Cabrini’s death. Here is a partial listing of who spoke and wrote.

Rt. Rev. Msgr Francis C. Kelley, D.D., L.L. D.
Very Rev. Msgr. Gherardo Ferrante, D.D.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Michael Lavelle
His Excellency John Bonzano, D.D.,  Apostolic Delegate
Comm. Antonio Stella, M.D.
Rev. John La Farge, S.J.
Rt. Rev. Edward O’Dea, Bishop of Seattle
Very Rev. F.S. Angelucci, O.S.M.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. John Chidwick, D.D.
Rt. Rev Benedict da Souza, Bishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil
His Holiness Pope Benedict XV (cable)

Their Eminences the Cardinals: Peter Maffi (Pisa), John Farley (New York), Francis Bourne (Westminster, England)

Right Reverend Bishops: of Southwark, England; Los Angeles, CA; Juneau, AK; Peoria, IL; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Brooklyn, NY; Scranton, PA; Chicago, IL; Seattle, WA

Very Reverend Monsignors: of New York, Seattle, Washington, D.C.

Rev. Fathers: from Portland, OR; San Diego, CA, Belfast, England; Spokane, WA; San Gabriele, CA; San Marco, TX; Camp Dix, NJ; New Orleans, LA.

Religious Orders: Sisters of the Visitation of St. Mary; Ursuline Sisters; Little Sisters of the Poor; Dominican Sisters; Sisters of Charity of Providence; Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy;

© 2015 St. Frances Cabrini Shrine.