Born in Northern Italy in 1850, Maria Francesca Cabrini was the thirteenth child in her family. In her early childhood years, she wanted to become a missionary to China in imitation of St. Francis Xavier, the 16th-century Jesuit. Because of poor health and frailty, she was unable to fulfill her previous plans, but then she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and ministered to the poor in Italy. Years later, Pope Leo XIII advised her to come to New York City to serve the Italian immigrants and orphans. Her work quickly expanded through the United States, establishing schools and orphanages. She eventually became a U.S. citizen. In 1917, she died in Chicago and is buried in New York City. Because of her legendary accomplishments, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini became the first United States citizen to be canonized as a saint. On her feast day, may we continue to appreciate this amazing, saintly American woman and her legacy of love.
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