Spirituality for Today – December 2011 – Volume 16, Issue 5

Saint of the Month
St. Francesca Xavier Cabrini, December 22

An image of Saint Francesca Xavier CabriniSaint Francesca Xavier Cabrini

Frances was born on a farm in Lombardy, Italy, in 1850. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a missionary in China. But when she was old enough to enter the local convent, she was rejected for poor health. Not easily defeated, she found a job running a small orphanage, where she eventually took her vows.

A few years later, with a group of women from the orphanage, she started her own order, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Their goal was the Christian education of girls. The Order was so successful that many young women were soon begging to join. She built seven institutions in as many years – a true labor of love. With limited resources, the nuns often had to pitch in, even laying the bricks for their own buildings.

Frances held on to her childhood dream and hope finally to go to China, but the Pope asked Frances to start and orphanage and school in the U.S. instead. He was more concerned about the Italian immigrants there, who lived in disease-ridden slums and worked in dangerous jobs for little money. When she and her nuns arrived in New York, they found plenty of students but no school. Undaunted, Frances found a wealthy patroness who helped the nuns purchase a house; soon their first orphanage opened.

During the next 28 years, the woman who was "too fragile" to become a nun founded 67 orphanages, schools and hospitals throughout the world. Frances's unfailing faith and determination inspired people everywhere to help her. Canonized in 1946, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is a "shining light" for our world.

O Lord Jesus Christ,
You enkindled the fire of Your Sacred Heart in the holy virgin Frances Xavier,
so that she might win souls for You in many lands
and establish a new religious congregation of women in Your Church.
Grant that through her intercession we may make our own
the dispositions of Your Sacred Heart
and be worthy of the haven of eternal happiness:
You Who live and reign with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives