This IWD, Cristiana Dell'Anna Brings the Story of Cabrini to the Forefront

Despite her incredible achievements in equality in late 19th century America and being the first American citizen to be canonized a saint, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (also known as Mother Cabrini) isn’t spoken about much in the history books. Nor is she a widely known figure. But hers is a story of unwavering determination and persistence, one of entrepreneurship, and one that is still rather contemporary in the obstacles she had to overcome as a woman. It feels only fitting that the Italian American’s life is being celebrated in the film Cabrini on International Women’s Day—a day on which we honor the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the globe.  

Admittedly, I first became aware of Cabrini when I was approached about covering the biographical film and its star, Italian actor Cristiana Dell’Anna. I went in uninformed, outside of a quick search on Google, and came out completely inspired. The movie focuses on Cabrini’s work with her Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Though she and her sisters sought out to be missionaries in China, Pope Leo XIII instead sent them to New York City in 1889, and upon arrival, they were met with disease, crime, and impoverished children. Mother Cabrini went straight to work, organizing catechism and education classes for the Italian immigrants. Although she was often met with great hostility and resistance from the mayor, Cabrini wouldn’t take no for an answer and went on to secure housing and healthcare for the city’s most vulnerable. With a relentless spirit, she would eventually create an empire of hope, building schools across America, Europe, and Central and South America.  

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