That irritating woman!

by | Nov 18, 2023 | Across the Ages

Who is a prophet? Not someone who sees the future, so much as someone who sees how things could be, according to God’s plan, and asks “why not?” (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini)


The secretary approached the Pope to let him know Frances Cabrini was still waiting in the lobby to meet with him. He exclaimed “That irritating woman in the lobby!”, but let her in nonetheless. After their meeting, as he stood by the window watching her leave, he told his secretary “that woman is a saint”. 

Saints have their own personalities and sometimes those can rub even other holy people. 

St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, known as Mother Cabrini, harbored a true steadfastness in spirit as her pursuit of God’s work was never independent of her obedience to God’s church.  Bishop (now Saint) Giovanni Scalabrini approached her about ministering to Italian immigrants in the US. Frances, however, wanted to be a missionary in China and the Indies like St. Francis Xavier SJ, and even took his name. So she properly sought out the discernment of Pope Leo XIII who told her to go west rather than east.

It was her understanding that arrangements had been made for her and her six sisters with Archbishop Michael Corrigan. However, upon arriving in New York, with no one to collect them, they sent a boy to the Archbishop. He returned letting them know the Archbishop had changed his mind about sponsoring them (apparently they had not received the letter!). Now homeless and penniless, the Italian-speaking Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus began begging for alms in the rough neighborhoods of New York city. Eventually the Archbishop arranged housing for them. 

Their begging wasn’t just for their temporal needs; it was for souls. Within days they began catechism classes, and the rest is history. Orphanages, hospitals, and schools were established throughout the US and in other countries. Mother Cabrini was a keen business woman because her actions came first from prayer. For example, having a burgeoning orphanage in Denver, she desired a summer house for them in the mountains to escape high temperatures. When walking the grounds along the Rocky Mountain foothills where she wanted the summer home to be built, the real estate agent told her she couldn’t build there because it had no water supply. She pounded the ground twice with her walking stick and a stream of fresh water broke through. Cabrini water still flows to this day, furnishing the Shrine (former orphanage) with its healing waters. Miracles have occurred. 

Our cause is in His hands; He never abandons those who have an upright heart.

(Mother Cabrini)

Mother Cabrini’s life also reassures us of our Lord’s loving care and protection when we do His work. She ministered to the Italian families in Denver, whose husbands were often in the mountains working in the dangerous silver mines. Despite her lifelong poor health, Mother would personally go down into the mine shafts to minister to their husbands and bring the men letters from their wives and children. She spoke as she truly believed: “Love, and God, will take care of the rest.” 

Our challenge, then, is one of faith. We must believe in God’s providence and ask for desire to live it. True faith both requires and brings with it humility. And when things do not go as desired, whether it is within the Church or in the world, we must trust that the Holy Spirit will make happen what He wants to happen when He wants it to be. Abide in His time not our own, follow His plan not our ideas or opinions. Through the sacraments, mental prayer, and the examen, God will heal us making more room for Himself within our soul, guiding our life. 

Peace be with you and accompany you always and everywhere and to the ends of the earth. (Mother Cabrini)

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊


(Image is statue of Mother Cabrini taking her oath of US citizenship in Seattle, Washington, from Museum of San Fernando Valley)


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