Holy Name Cathedral installs statue and relic of St. Frances Cabrini

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Holy Name Cathedral installs statue and relic of St. Frances Cabrini

Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., celebrates the life and legacy of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini with a Mass and unveiling of a newly commissioned statue on Oct. 15, 2022. Bishop Emeritus Daniel Turley, OSA, of Chulucanas, Peru, was the main celebrant and homilist of the Mass, which included the blessing of her first-class relic embedded in a bas-relief that will be placed in a reliquary inside the cathedral. Father Gregory Sakowicz, rector of Holy Name Cathedral, blessed and dedicated the statue after the Mass. Mother Cabrini, the first United States citizen to be declared a saint, worked tirelessly on behalf of her fellow Italian immigrants, opened schools, hospitals and orphanages in Chicago and across the United States. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Fathers Marek Smolka and Ryan Brady walk in the entrance procession. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Missionary Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Bridget Zanin proclaims the first reading. Mother Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters in 1880. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Participants follow along with the program booklet. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Florence Sorensen proclaims the second reading. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Turley delivers the homily. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Turley blesses the relic of Mother Cabrini that is now housed in a small case to the left of the altar along with other relics. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Participants pray during Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Turley receives the gifts from Dr. Carol Christiansen who donated the statue. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Turley celebrates the Eucharist. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cabrini Sister Joan McGlinchey, the archdiocese’s vicar for religious, shares the sign of peace. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Sakowicz prays the prayers of blessing over of the statue in the courtyard. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Turley blesses the statue of Mother Cabrini with holy water. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Participants huddle together to watch the blessing and dedication of the new statue. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Holy Name Cathedral welcomed on Oct. 15 a first-class relic and a bronze statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, identified on the front of the worship guide as “Chicago’s saint.”

Bishop Emeritus Daniel Turley of Chulucanas, Peru, a Chicago native and member of the Augustinian community, celebrated the Mass and urged the Catholics of Chicago and beyond to follow the example of Mother Cabrini, founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, in feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, educating those who lack the opportunity to learn and, most of all, sharing the love of Jesus Christ with everyone, especially the poor and forgotten.

“What a powerful saint for our times,” Bishop Turley said in his homily. “She asks us to do the same. She asks us to bring Jesus to our family, to our friends, to the poor, to the suffering, to so many people who don’t seem to understand why they are here.”

Mother Carbrini became a U.S. citizen in 1909, and was the first U.S. citizen to be made a saint when she was canonized in 1946. She was named universal patroness of immigrants in 1950.

Francesca Cabrini was born about two months prematurely in Italy in 1850, the youngest of 13 children, Bishop Turley said. She always wanted to be a missionary, but several religious communities turned her away because of her frail health. So in 1880, she started her own religious community, with hopes of joining other communities doing mission work in Asia. Instead, in 1889, Pope Leo XIII sent the sisters west, to minister to the Italian immigrants in the United States.

By the time Mother Cabrini died in 1917 at Columbus Hospital, founded by her order, in Chicago, the community had started 67 schools, hospitals and other institutions in North and South America and in Europe. Mother Cabrini was deathly afraid of water after nearly drowning as a child; when she died, she had crossed the Atlantic Ocean 27 times by ship. She had also crossed the Andes Mountains on horseback, and contracted malaria in Central America, Bishop Turley said.

“What was the source of her energy and zeal? How could she do so much?” Bishop Turley asked. “She was sick from the moment she was born.”

The answer, he said, was her love for Jesus.

The Mass included readings and prayers in eight languages to honor Mother Cabrini’s work with people from all over the world.

According to Father Greg Sakowicz, rector of Holy Name Cathedral, Mother Cabrini visited the cathedral when she lived and ministered in Chicago, so it seems particularly appropriate to have her relic and statue there.

“During her time in Chicago, Mother Cabrini would come to Holy Name Cathedral to pray and it is an honor for her statue to be here, in the heart of the city she loved, for all to visit,” Sakowicz said. “Her missionary spirit and message are just as timely today as when she was tirelessly working for immigrants and the needy. We continue her legacy of welcoming and supporting those seeking new opportunities, safety, care and hope.”

Sakowicz formally accepted the reliquary and statue from donor Dr. Carol Christianson, saying, “St. Mother Frances Cabrini belongs here, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Chicago.”

Chicago is also home to the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, 2520 N. Lakeview Ave., on the former site of Columbus Hospital. Catholics in the area are also celebrating a jubilee year in honor of the saint. Cardinal Cupich 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. The theme for the jubilee year is “Christ’s Love Heals the World.”

The statue stands in the cathedral’s north garden. It and the bas-relief reliquary mounted inside the cathedral were created by sculptors Lou Cella and Jessica LoPresti of Rotblatt and Amrany Studios in Highwood.

After the Mass, before the statue was unveiled, Cella said that Mother Cabrini, patroness of immigrants, is an especially appropriate saint for Chicago, calling to mind his mother, an immigrant from Mexico who raised seven successful children here.

Sakowicz said that those who want to honor Mother Cabrini would do best to follow her example.

“Let us ask God, ‘What more can I do for the poor and forgotten?’” he said.


  • saints
  • frances cabrini

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