St. Frances was born in Lombardi, Italy, on July 15, 1850, the youngest of thirteen children. At eighteen, she desired to become a nun, but poor health stood in her way. She helped her parents until their death, and then worked on a farm with her brothers and sisters. One day a priest asked her to teach in a girls’ school and she stayed for six years. At the request of her bishop, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals. Then, at the urging of Pope Leo XIII, she came to the United States with six nuns in 1889 to work among the Italian immigrants. During the next twenty-seven years, in the face of great obstacles, she traveled extensively and the congregation spread all over the United States. She became an American citizen in 1909. Frances died in Chicago, Illinois, on December 22, 1917. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1946 and became the first American citizen to be so honored. St. Frances was named patroness of immigrants by Pius in 1950.
St. Frances serves as a great example of a woman who, through her humble service to God, was able to establish more than fifty hospitals, schools, orphanages, convents and other institutions. She did not look for fame and fortune, but only to serve God and mankind, and through her humility and love of God, she achieved greatness.
From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day
O Jesus, I love you very much. Give me a heart as big as the universe. Tell me what You wish that I do, and do with me as You will.
— Traditionally attributed to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
St. Frances, through your humility and willingness to serve others, you accomplished so much for mankind. Dear St. Frances, please pray for us that we may live our lives in service to others. Ask the Lord to give us the grace daily to die to ourselves, that we may live for Him. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
- St. Didacus (15th Century), Bishop, Martyr
- St. Stanislaus Kotska (1568) Jesuit novice, Patron of Poland, young students, and those with broken bones