The National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini to Honor the 75th Anniversary of Her Canonization with a Jubilee Year, Starting with a Special Mass on Her Feast Day Nov. 13, 2021
Chicago, (Nov. 9, 2021) – In honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Canonization of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, more commonly known as Mother Cabrini, the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini will celebrate with a Jubilee year beginning on her feast day, Nov. 13. To kick-off the celebration, Bishop Robert Casey, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Chicago, will lead the opening of the Holy Door at 3:30 p.m. and the inaugural Jubilee Mass at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13 at the national shrine, 2520 N. Lakeview Ave. in Chicago. Due to limited seating capacity at the shrine, guests must register in advance to attend Mass. Masks are required to be worn inside the shrine. The Mass will be livestreamed at https://youtu.be/tIJ2t8pfiR4.
“Mother Cabrini, an immigrant and missionary, helped shape America’s social and health care systems in the early 20th century, which had a consequential impact on Chicago,” said Sr. Joan McGlinchey MSC, vicar for religious for the archdiocese and board president of the shrine. “Mother Cabrini communicated God’s love in action through works of evangelization, education and direct service to those most in need.”
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, petitioned Pope Francis through the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Vatican to declare a special Jubilee year honoring the 75th anniversary of Mother Cabrini’s canonization, beginning on Nov. 13, 2021 and ending on the same date in 2022. Pope Francis granted the petition and gave permission to begin promoting the Jubilee year privileges immediately. The theme for the Jubilee year is “Christ’s Love Heals the World.”
“St. Frances Xavier Cabrini lived as a disciple of God with the core values and virtues that should shape all Christian lives and especially those of ecclesial leaders,” said Cardinal Cupich. “She responded to the call of Jesus to serve. Her persistence and determination were reinforced by an unwavering conviction and the eternal freedom of knowing that she was sent to do God’s will. May we all follow her abiding example of trusting in Divine Providence and gauging our value and worth not by material possessions or success but by the eye of God.”
The liturgy will begin with the opening of the shrine’s Holy Door, a significant ceremony in the Catholic Church. A Holy Door, which symbolizes the doorway to salvation, is only opened at a cathedral, basilica or parish of special significance that becomes a pilgrimage site during a Jubilee year. The Holy Father has given bishops around the world the power to designate Holy Doors in their own diocese as places of pilgrimage for the faithful. Pilgrims passing through them secure the remission of their sins.
The faithful who journey to the shrine will receive a plenary indulgence by visiting, walking through and praying at its Holy Door. Holy Name Cathedral, where Mother Cabrini visited and prayed while in Chicago will host a special Mass celebrating the Jubilee on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 12:30 p.m. The Cathedral’s Holy Door will be located near the cathedral courtyard.
“My hope for the Jubilee year is to kindle a deep and abiding appreciation for the achievements of Mother Cabrini who responded immediately, selflessly, and generously to the Lord’s invitation to serve Him in His people,” said Fr. Ramil J. Fajardo, rector of the national shrine. “As Chicago’s own ‘favorite daughter’ Mother Cabrini’s legacy continues through the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and their ministry of outreach to the poor and immigrants.”
A Jubilee, also known as a Holy Year, usually happens once every 25 years, unless a pope calls an extraordinary one to bring attention to a particular issue or celebrate a momentous event. During a Jubilee, Catholics can obtain special plenary indulgences, or remission of their sins that have already been forgiven by a priest, if they fulfill certain conditions and do good works or make pilgrimages. Catholics can receive no more than one plenary indulgence per day.
“One of my favorite quotes of Mother Cabrini is ‘Today love must not be hidden....It must be living, active and true’," reflected Sr. Bridget Zanin MSC, executive director of the national shrine. “We need this in our days more than ever.”
The shrine plans to offer talks, symposiums, and prayer opportunities throughout the Jubilee year. In addition, a donor has commissioned a statue of Mother Cabrini to be installed in the prayer garden at Holy Name Cathedral in October 2022.
Maria Francesca Cabrini was born two months premature in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, Italy on July 15, 1850, the 13th child of her family. She was in delicate health most of her life. From an early age, Maria Francesca was fascinated by missionaries who spoke of their experiences of spreading the Word of God in China. Hearing these stories, she wanted to become a missionary but was rejected by existing religious communities because of her poor health. However, a local bishop recognized her passion and energy, and encouraged her to start her own religious community. In 1880, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus , comprised of seven nuns in Lodi, Italy.
After founding the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus , Mother Cabrini spent some years developing the order and expanding their missions throughout Italy. She founded several schools, orphanages, and even supervised a hospital in her home country.
Her endless energy and missionary heart caught the attention of Pope Leo XIII. In 1889, he sent Mother Cabrini to New York City to serve the Italian immigrants and orphans who needed basic education and health care and a way to practice their faith in the U.S. She arrived speaking no English and having no funds. This did not hamper Mother Cabrini who was a shrewd businesswoman and administrator.
Her eventual success in New York took her to Chicago in 1899, which faced similar immigrant issues. Chicago’s poor but growing Italian community desperately needed schools for the young, and better access to health care and spiritual guidance.
In Chicago, Mother Cabrini had a number of accomplishments including opening Assumption School in 1899, the first Italian school in the city that served the neighborhood’s Italian speaking community; establishing Columbus Hospital in Chicago’s Lincoln Park in February 1905; becoming a U.S. citizen in 1909; opening Columbus Hospital Extension on the west side of Chicago in February 1910; and purchasing a 32-acre farm (in what is now Park Ridge) in 1917 so patients at her hospitals could have fresh food.
Mother Cabrini died on Dec. 22, 1917 in a private room at Columbus Hospital at age 67. At the time of her death, she had founded 67 institutions in Chicago, Denver, Des Plaines, Golden, Colorado, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and Seattle, and in countries throughout Latin America and Europe, helping to shape social and health care systems.
Mother Cabrini was beatified on November 13, 1938, by Pope Pius XI, and canonized on July 7, 1946, by Pope Pius XII. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first American citizen to be canonized and an estimated 120,000 people filled Chicago's Soldier Field for a Mass of thanksgiving celebrating her canonization. In 1950, she was named Universal Patroness of Immigrants because of her efforts in helping immigrants around the world.
More information about the Jubilee year celebration and Mother Cabrini’s life can be found at https://www.cabrininationalshrine.org/ and https://www.archchicago.org/news-and-events/jubilee-year.