After being closed for a decade, Mother Cabrini shrine in Chicago reopens
The National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, which was once the chapel of the former Columbus Hospital, one of two hospitals founded by Mother Cabrini in Chicago and also the place of her death in 1917, was rededicated on Oct. 1 with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Francis George.
The shrine, which originally opened in 1955 and once drew thousands of visitors a year from around the globe, had been closed for 10 years during the construction of a residential tower that replaced the old hospital. The shrine was the only part of the hospital that was spared the wrecking ball.
Now open to the public, the shrine, at 2520 N. Lakeview Ave., features relics from the saint’s private room, including her desk, bed, some items of clothing, the wicker chair that she died in and a journal that describes her missionary work across the world. It also includes a chapel with frescoes that depict the life of Mother Cabrini. It will serve as a sanctuary for prayer and quiet reflection for people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. (For more photos, click here.)
“It’ll be the way we can re-tell the story of Mother Cabrini,” Sister Joan McGlinchey, told ChicagoCatholicNews.com in a previous interview in 2011. McGlinchey is a member of the general council of Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the religious order established by Mother Cabrini more than 130 years ago.
Mother Cabrini, the first American citizen to be canonized, “was well-known all over the world,” the Rev. Ted Ploplis, rector of the shrine, once said. “She was kind of like the Mother Teresa of the century before.”
Born in northern Italy, Mother Cabrini was first a teacher. After being rejected by several religious communities because of her poor health, she decided to start her own. She eventually founded 67 institutions, including schools, orphanages, hospitals and parish ministries across the United States, Europe and Latin America.
The frail nun regularly crossed the Atlantic Ocean, traveled by donkey through the Andes Mountains and rode trains across America to serve the poor. Her motto was a line from the scripture: “I can do all things in God who gives me strength.”
“She went to a bunch of places that few women, especially nuns,” ever visited, Ploplis said. “She knew how to start things with very little money, no backing or support, and they would survive. … She is a good role model for young people today.”
Mother Cabrini became an American citizen in 1909 and was canonized in 1946.
Photos, from top: A photo illustration of the shrine. Mother Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants.