Posts Tagged ‘New York’

It’s the 100th anniversary of her death today.

Such an amazing woman.  Do you feel tired?  Read her story.

This is one of the best online – it’s thorough, with lots of good quotes from her, and a good image that lays out the scope of her travels:


Here’s an excerpt from the chapter on St. Frances Cabrini from my Loyola Kids’ Book of Saints.  To reiterate – it’s an excerpt.  There’s more at the beginning at the end to relate her story to a younger child’s life.  It’s in a section called, “Saints are People who Travel Far From Home,” along with St. Boniface, St. Peter Claver, St. Francis Xavier and  St. Francis Solano. 


By the late 1880s, Mother Cabrini became interested in a new problem. Hundreds of thousands of Italians moved to America, seeking a way out of the poverty of their new land. Very few of these immigrants were successful right away. Most lived in worse poverty than they’d endured back in Italy. They lived in crowded and dirty apartments, lived on scraps, and were unable to find work. Sad stories traveled back to the home country, right to Mother Cabrini. So Mother "frances cabrini"Cabrini set out on the long trip to America.

Over the next thirty-seven years, Mother Cabrini was constantly on the move, starting schools, orphanages, and hospitals for Italian immigrants, and others in need. In the first few years she traveled between New York, Nicaragua, and New Orleans. After having a dream in which she saw Mary tending to the sick lying in hospital beds, Mother Cabrini started Columbus Hospital in New York City.

After she founded the hospital, Mother Cabrini made trips back to Italy to organize more nuns for work in America. Between these trips, she and some sisters headed south to Argentina. The sisters went by way of Panama and then Lima, Peru. They made the journey by boat, train, mule, and on foot.

Back in the United State, Mother Cabrini traveled constantly taking her sisters to Chicago, Seattle, and Denver. It was in Chicago that Mother Cabrini, at the age of sixty-seven, passed away. She’d begun her work with just a handful of sisters. By the time she died, fifty houses of sisters were teaching, caring for orphans, and running hospitals. Her order had grown to almost a thousand sisters in all.

Image source

“I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.”

We visited the Cabrini shrine in NYC in 2003. That was when the high school to which the chapel where her relics rest was still open.

A pilgrimage group from a local Catholic school filled some of the pews, so Katie got the benefit of hearing the last part of the Shrine staffer’s very enthusiastic talk about Mother Cabrini, which she probably absorbed much more deeply than she would have if I were lecturing her. She caught the stories of the two miracles associated with Mother Cabrini’s beatification and canonization – a nun cured of cancer, and a baby whose retinas had been damaged by too intense of a solution of silver nitrate drops after birth. Eyesight restored, baby grew up to be ordained a priest at Mother Cabrini’s tomb, and, according to the staffer in her memorable (to Katie) accent, “He had the biggest blue eyes you ever saw!”

Of course, Mother Cabrini’s remains are there under the altar, and the staffer also said that for a time, the eyes on the face (a reconstruction) were open, so it was a very useful place to send misbehaving schoolkids for contemplation of their sins.

Here’s the story of that miracle:

Into infant Peter Smith’s eyes the rushed nurse has deftly dropped, carefully pulling back each lid to get it all in, not 1-percent silver-ni­trate solution, but 50-percent silver-nitrate solution. Even 5-percent to 25-percent solution is used only on unwanted human tissue — tumors, for instance — because it eats away flesh as effectively as electric cauter­izing tools. Fifty-percent solution will gradually bore a hole in a solid piece of wood. And it has already been at work on the soft human tissue of infant Peter’s eyes for two hours…


That afternoon and evening as the spiritual daughters of Frances Cabrini, foundress of the hospital and their religious order, go off duty, they gather one by one in the chapel. All the long night they remain there begging Mother Cabrini, dead only three years, to obtain from the bountiful heart of Jesus the healing of the Smiths’ whimpering infant. Mae is with them, praying her heart out too.

At nine o’clock the next morning, when Kearney and Horan arrive at the nursery, to their astonishment they find baby Peter’s eyelids much less swollen and pussy. Gently the eye specialist opens the eyelids, his stomach tightening as he prepares to see the ravages on the delicate eye tissue of the deadly acid.

Instead, looking back at him with the vague, slightly unfocused gaze of the one-day-old are two perfect eyes.

And he did, indeed, become a priest, as did his brother:

On Friday, January 13th, Missionary Sisters along with many others, had the opportunity to join Fr. John Frances Xavier Smith at the St. Frances X. Cabrini Shrine in New York City as he shared the story of the miracle of his brother, Fr. Peter Smith. Fr. Peter Smith’s eye tissue and sight restoration was Mother Cabrini’s first miracle.

Fr. John took us back in time to old New York as he shared the story he had heard from his mother, Margaret Riley Smith. She would retell time and time again the particulars of this miracle that occurred on March14, 1921. He repeated several times how she commented on seeing Peter after his birth and how blue his eyes were. Peter was born healthy and normal but a nurse’s mistake of [administering] the [incorrect dosage of] silver nitrate solution [to baby Peter] ate through his corneas and some of his facial skin.



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— 1 —

My last “Quick Takes” was posted before last Friday, which I spent in The City (shut up!) with Ann Engelhart.  We had a great time.   Took the train in from Long Island, where she lives, and headed for the Morgan, but not before dawdling in some of her favorite notions shops (she being a Creative and all) –  lie M & J Trimming.   I loved it.  Even bought some stuff.  Have no idea what I’ll do with it, but who knows?!

— 2 —

We spent a lot of time at the Pierpont Morgan library.  It had been closed for renovations the last time I was there, but this time had the added attraction of a special exhibit on the Eucharist.  Illuminating Faith:  The Eucharist in Medieval Faith and Art.   It was small, but wonderful  

Now, I had read a mildly critical review of this show at First Things, and now having seen it myself, I must respectfully disagree with Maureen Mullarkey.  She takes the exhibit to task (again, mildly) for placing the Eucharistic devotion expressed in the astonishing and beautiful books on display in the past, as if it were an ancient, lost belief.  I don’t agree.  First of all, the exhibit is explicitly historical.  It’s about the Medieval period, so it’s quite appropriate to retain that context.  Secondly, both Ann and I were impressed with the respectful and objective descriptions given of Eucharistic faith.  the displays were straightforward and unencumbered by any diversions into Comparative Religions territory.  This is what people believed, and this is how they expressed and honored that belief.  Period.  

Oh, and the work on display?  Gorgeous.  Intriguing.  Humbling.

— 3 —

Almost as absorbing was the other special exhibit: Old Masters, Newly Aquired – a gathering of drawings from various collectors.   I love going to exhibits with Ann – I can ask her all the dumb questions (“So…how do they make it so you can’t see the brushstrokes?”) and not quite so dumb ones, too (“What is a wash, exactly?”)

— 4 —

We then made our way to Eataly, at my request.   I really enjoyed it, although it also irritated me the same way having to pay 4 bucks for a baguette that would cost me 1 Euro in France irritates me.  This is normal, everyday food in Italy.  Why is it so exotic here and why must I pay a premium for it?

That out of the way, it was really good, and what I enjoyed most were the condiments – the fig preserves with a dash of chili?  Yes. 


— 5 —

And no, I did not kill Ann’s dog, although I was afraid I had when it was determined that he had found and consumed an entire bag of (not chocolate) candies I’d purchased and the fact that the candies were in the shape of raspberries was the reason there was red in his vomit, not that there was blood and he was dying because my candy had killed him was a big relief.

— 6 —

School!  Has Started!  Slowly.  But it’s happening.  Some curricula, some unschooling, which means we came back from the library loaded down with a couple of dozen books on pre-Columban cultures (still an obsession) and the history of (American) football.

And we spent a day at a local state park because people are just not tired enough at night, and by heavens, we’re going to change that…..

"amy welborn"

— 7 —

Bambinelli Sunday is HOT, baby!  As in, at some moments of the day, when the rankings are particularly sweet, even hotter than Sarah Palin!

(I have a bunch of copies now.  I have a speaking engagement next week, and if I have any left, I’ll put ’em up for sale.)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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