The Dedication of the Shrine
Cardinal Spellman Arrives for the Dedication of the Shrine
On May 10, 1960, eight hundred Mother Cabrini High School girls lined Fort Washington Avenue, while those in the senior class stood in the driveway. When Francis Cardinal Spellman arrived and saw the sight he unexpectedly had his car stopped. He got out and walked between the “two wings of youth, happy, bonny, and impeccably disciplined” until he reached the place where the Missionary Sisters and the venerable Mother General were standing.
There two little girls offered him a large basket of red roses. A senior schoolgirl handed His Eminence a spiritual bouquet illuminated on very fine parchment.
Ora pro nobis!
The Cardinal was escorted to the Shrine. Once vested, and accompanied by eleven monsignors and twelve clerics, he began blessing the exterior and interior walls of the sanctuary, while the psalms were sung. The litany of the saints was intoned, and His Eminence added an invocation to St. Francesca Xavier Cabrini. A “well-fed choir of voices” responded Ora pro nobis.
Mass followed, celebrated by His Excellency Msgr. Joseph Pernicone. “From the grandiose organ of Crema, heavenly melodies emanated, making the already solemn ceremony even more evocative” and “with perfect execution, the schoolgirls’ choir accompanied the various moments of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice.”
Splendor on Earth and in Heaven
Afterwards Cardinal Spellman spoke with the architects, Cesare De Sina and Vincenzo Pellegrino. He lavished praise on their use of colored marbles which, ”so precious and varied, surround the mortal remains of the saint with splendor,” complementing the greatness of the Saint.