THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF THE GREAT CABRINI
by Tim Rohr, 2/22/06
She lived in a time (1850-1917) when travel was slow, arduous, and danger-filled. Being of frail health, she also had no business traveling anywhere. She had no money of her own and could not speak the language of the countries where she spent most of her mission life. Yet, she traversed the globe, visited more countries, and established more institutions than probably any other saint. By the end of her life she had drawn over four-thousand sisters to her community, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and established over fifty houses in countries all over the world.
Small, sickly, poor, a woman in a time when women had little influence, she, almost single-handedly, built the Catholic Church in a country that was, at that time, very hostile to Catholics, or at least barely tolerated them.
Her reputation for her willingness to do for the faith what others would not dare to do soon spread around the Catholic world and bishops everywhere clamored for her to come to their diocese and establish a community of her sisters. An example of her all-for-Jesus missionary spirit is the work she did in such far flung lands as
Many miracles are attributed to St. Francis Cabrini. An amusing one is “the miracle of the stockings”. One of her sisters had a severe case of varicose veins and had been instructed to wear support stockings. One day, unbeknownst to the sister, she put on a pair of Mother Cabrini’s stockings. By the next day her varicose veins were gone and legs completely healed. Upon learning of the miracle, Mother Cabrini rebuked the sister for crediting her for the miracle and insisted that it was her faith that healed her.
But perhaps more striking than her miracles, and intriguingly instructive for us today, is how she stood up to the challenges of the surrounding culture. In
Despite being Catholic, many of the fathers and mothers of the children attending her schools were unmarried. What we now call “shacking” was seen in
Italian by birth, Mother Cabrini became a naturalized
There’s also another story here. Much effort is put into catechizing and evangelizing and sometimes even “wooing” and “wowing” our youth, yet there remain the ever-persistent problems of distraction, apathy, and general malaise about the Faith. Historically though, it was not instruction and lively events that moved young men and women to follow the path to sainthood, but the stories of the saints themselves. How many young boys and girls over the centuries learned the heart of the faith by hearing the stories of the saints at the feet of their parents!
Let your children hear the “greatest stories every told”. Read to them the lives of the saints. A great series, and very readable, is Bob & Penny Lord’s Super Saints Book I, II, & III from which the above story of Mother Cabrini was condensed. And since we all want to go to heaven, we might as well get to know some of the folks that we’ll be (hopefully) spending eternity with.