Mother Cabrini

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Frances Xavier "Mother" Cabrini​

(Italian-American nun known for her humanitarian zeal)


Born July 15, 1850​
St. Angelo, Lodigiano, Italy

Resident of New York City
and New Orleans, Louisiana

Died December 22, 1917 (aged 67)​
Chicago, Illinois

Agostino and Stella Oldini Cabrini
Alma mater:
Magesterial Institute of Lodi, Italy

Religion Roman Catholic

Frances Xavier Cabrini, known as Mother Cabrini (July 15, 1850 – December 22, 1917),was an internationally known Roman Catholic nun who worked with the poor, the infirmed, and orphans, much like Mother Theresa of India in the later 20th century.

Mother Cabrini was born in St. Angelo, Lodigiano, Italy, the daughter of Agostino Cabrii and the former Stella Oldini. She was taught by an older sister until she turned thirteen, when she was sent to the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Arluno, a municipality of Milan, Italy. She received a teaching certificate from the magisterial institute at Lodi in the Lombardy region of Italy. She taught only for two years because in 1874 she took over the operation of an orphans' home in Cocogno in the province of Lodi. In 1880, the 30-year-old Mother Cabrini founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.[1] [2]

In 1899, Mother Cabrinia migrated to the United States. She first worked among Italian immigrants in New York City, where in 1891 she established the Columbus Hospital. In 1892, she relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she purchased a tenement house on St. Philip Street, which she made into a convent with a chapel, a day school, and an orphanage. The sisters also acted as midwives and spoke about the sacraments to seamen and dock workers. They accompanied the bishop on visits to the poor on Mississippi River plantations to the north of New Orleans. Mother Cabrini and her sister begged for alms on the streets of New Orleans. She left New Orleans but returned in 1905 to enlarge the St. Philip Street house, which was turned into a school. She established an orphanage on donated land near Bayou St. John on Esplanade Avenue; the St. Philip Street building was turned into a school; in 1928, eleven years after her death, the school became the Cabrini Day Nursery, one of the city’s first day-care centers, which is still in operation.[1]

In 1900, she became a naturalized American citizen. She died at the age of sixty-seven in Chicago, Illinois. In 1933 her body was removed from its first tomb at West Park, New York and placed under the main altar of the chapel at Mother Cabrini High School, in New York City. She was beatified by the Roman Catholic church in November 1938 and canonized in 1946, the first American to have received this honor.[1]

Several hospitals in the United States are named for Mother Cabrini, including the ones in New York City and Alexandria, Louisiana. There is a shrine to her honor in Golden, Colorado.

In 2019, a public survey in New York City showed support for erecting a statue to honor Mother Cabrini because of her work in the Italian immigrant community. However, Chirlane McCray, wife of leftist Mayor Bill de Blasio, decided instead to honor two drag queens as part of her "She Built NYC” program despite the fact that Mother Cabrini gathered more votes than any other woman under consideration.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography: Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on May 23, 2020.
  2. A Dictionary of Louisiana uses two sources for this sketch on Mother Cabrini: Mary Gehman and Nancy Ries, Women & New Orleans (New Orleans, 1985);, and The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, XXVII (New York, 1936).
  3. Mother Cabrini got the votes -- but not the statue. Why?. Retrieved on May 24, 2020.