Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini is the first US citizen to be canonized. She was an Italian-American nun who ministered to immigrants and founded orphanages, schools, hospitals, and other social services in New York City, among other cities. When New York City asked the public to help them decide on females to feature in statues around the city, Mother Cabrini was the top pick—yet the committee didn’t choose her.
Understandably, some Catholics and Italian-Americans were frustrated by the city’s snub. The Diocese of Brooklyn wasn’t taking no for an answer, however. They resolved to build a statue for this wonderful saint with or without the city’s support. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn joined Morning Air® to share the latest news.
“Since it seems like the slight that the city did in not having her in the first group of statues of women to be erected in the city—it certainly was considered by the community a slight—and that’s why kind of a grassroots effort started to build our own statue,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
What started as a slight by NYC has turned into a joint effort to honor Mother Cabrini. Bishop DiMarzio said that Governor Andrew Cuomo “seemed to come in on his white horse wanting to help us.” It was help they couldn’t refuse, as it would be significant financial support and would also open doors to statue locations the diocese wouldn’t otherwise have had access to.
“We had a meeting with Governor Cuomo and he’s asked that we establish a committee that would oversee the erection of a statue in a place yet to be determined. This would be a joint effort by this committee that would do some fundraising and the State of New York.”
The Diocese of Brooklyn hopes that the Mother Cabrini statue will remind people of the plight of immigrants. “She is the patron saint of immigrants. And today, immigrants have been under a lot of unnecessary scrutiny, being blamed and scapegoats for a lot of our social problems. Today, more than ever, we need Mother Cabrini’s intercession for the protection of immigrants and that’s why we’re doing this,” explained Bishop DiMarzio.
What will the statue look like? “The statue itself most probably won’t be a statue of just her, but as many times she’s portrayed … surrounded by immigrants with the Sacred Heart image over her because that’s what she did—she did what she did in the name of the Church and in the name of Christ.”
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for us!
Tune in to Morning Air® weekdays at 6-9am ET / 3-6am PT only on Relevant Radio®.