22 DecemberApse Spire-G103
Patron Saint: Emigrants Symbol: Lily

Between 1901 and 1913, almost five million Italians immigrated to America, of which more than three million came from the south. A true social scourge and drain, as many politicians and sociologists defined it. However, alongside the plight that emigration caused, an Italian saint, celebrated on December 22nd, deserves to be remembered, as she looked upon this phenomenon with the understanding eyes of a woman, a Christian, thus earning the title of “Mother of the Emigrants”: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. Born in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano on July 15th, 1850, and left an orphan, Frances wanted to retire to a convent but was not accepted owing to her poor health. So, she decided to accept the job of looking after an orphanage, entrusted to her by the parish priest of Codogno. Just after receiving her teaching diploma, the young lady did much more: she convinced some of her fellow school mates to join her in founding the original group of Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The year was 1880. Inspired by the great St. Francis Xavier, she dreamt of sailing to China, but the Pope told her that her mission was elsewhere: in America, where thousands and thousands of Italian emigrants lived in terrible and inhuman conditions. She, too, during the first of her twenty-four journeys across the ocean, shared the hardships and uncertainties of her fellow countrymen. Then, with extraordinary courage, she faced New York City, caring for orphans and the sick, building houses, schools and a large hospital. She then went to Chicago, and later to California, where she could continue to spread her work throughout America, all the way to Argentina. To those who congratulated her for the obvious success of all her work, Mother Cabrini would reply with sincere humbleness: “Are these things perhaps not the work of the Lord?” Death took her while she was still in full activity, during one of her many journeys to Chicago on December 22nd, 1917. Her body was triumphantly brought to New York, in the church attached to “Mother Cabrini High School,” so she could be near her “children.” In her travel notebooks she wrote “Today love must not be hidden; it must be active, vibrant and true.” Pope Pius XII canonized her in 1946.

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