Noble Heroine of Charity

From Mother Cabrini: Italian Immigrant of the Century by Mary Louise Sullivan, MSC

Frances Cabrini approached the twilight of her life of loving service and dedication persistent in her missionary efforts. In 1915 she set out for Seattle, where she had to face many difficulties in her efforts to establish a hospital. Late in 1916, a weary Frances Cabrini journeyed to the sisters, orphans, and students in Los Angeles. Six months later she went on to Chicago, where she was confident that the doctors at her Columbus Hospital would restore her flagging health…

It was a thinner, weaker and exhausted Frances Cabrini who returned to Chicago in 1917, concerned about the World War, her sisters abroad, the toll of human life, and the spreading misfortunes being spawned by the hostilities. Sensing the possibility that wartime shortages would be difficult for her two Chicago hospitals, Cabrini bought a farm in the suburb of Park Ridge, Illinois, and busied herself with selecting the livestock personally. Late in December she turned her attention to the Italian children of her thriving Assumption School in Chicago and made sure they would have candy for the holidays. In a certain sense Frances Cabrini had come full circle. She was once again the farmer’s daughter, the rural schoolteacher, after so many years and so many miles…

But it had not been easy. Mother Cabrini had known conflict, disappointment and sadness in her life. Scarcely any of her undertakings for Italian immigrants in the United States had been free of difficulties, particularly the continual strain of providing the wherewithal to support her Missionary Sisters, the orphans, the sick poor, the children in her schools and the thousands who looked to her for help…

Unexpectedly at midday on December 22, 1917, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini succumbed to chronic endocarditis sitting in a chair in her room at Chicago’s Columbus Hospital… the simple death notice issued by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart remembered her as a “noble heroine of charity.”

There were over a thousand sisters active in the sixty-seven houses Mother Cabrini had founded in the United States, Europe and Latin America. About four hundred of them were engaged in bettering the lot of the Italians in America. A novice in the order summed up the meaning of Mother Cabrini’s life more appropriately than any of the newspaper accounts…

Hers was a life lived for God alone… No task was too great, no labor was too hard, no journey too long and fatiguing, no sufferings were unbearable when the saving of souls and succoring of suffering humanity were in question.

St. Frances Cabrini, pray for us, that we too may live our lives for God alone.

Mother Cabrini laid out for viewing prior to burial

Original burial site at West Park, NY

© 2015 St. Frances Cabrini Shrine.
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