St. Frances was born in Sant Angelo Lodgiano in Italy, in 1850. Frances was born into a humble family, and was the youngest of thirteen children. Both her parents died when she was young. Frances was very pious from an early age and dreamt of being a missionary in Asia.
Frances studied to be a teacher. After graduation, Frances was not allowed to join a missionary order because she was considered too sickly and frail. For a period of time, Frances ran an orphanage, and became well-known and loved for her kindness.
In 1877, she began a religious community that became known as the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. In that same year she also took religious vows.
St. Frances’ community was soon recognized by the Pope. She implored the Pope to allow her and her new order to preach the Word of God in Asia. The Pope asked her instead to help the many Italian Catholic and other Catholic immigrants in the New World.
St. Frances and her sisters faced many obstacles in her early years in America. The saint organized catechism and education classes for the Italian immigrants. She established schools and orphanages, despite tremendous practical difficulties. In total, St. Frances established 67 institutions to help Catholic immigrants across the United States and South America. She was a tireless worker, and, in her efforts to support immigrants, she crossed the Atlantic thirty five times. The saint became a much loved and respected figure, and was affectionately known as Mother Cabrini. The American government eventually granted her citizenship because of her efforts to help the needy in society.
Mother Cabrini died in 1917, in Chicago, and was canonized in 1938.
When she was canonized, 120,000 people from all over the United States filled Soldier Field in Chicago for a Mass of thanksgiving.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini performed several miracles during her lifetime. She cured a member of her congregation of a terminal disease, and also restored the sight of a child who had been blinded by a chemical.
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini believed that prayer was essential in life:
"We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone."
The saint devoted her life to God, and she believed that this was the greatest happiness possible:
"O God, give us the strength to do all we can for you."