Mother Cabrini listed among saints; first U.S. citizen to get honor

By Aldo Forte  |  July 08 1946
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VATICAN CITY -- The United States had its first citizen among the saints of the Roman Catholic Church today after the canonization of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini in one of the most colorful ceremonies of the church.

Pope Pius Xn pronounced Mother Cabrini a saint at the climax of four and a half hours of pagentry in St. Peter's Basilica yesterday.

His Holiness revealed that the feast day and day for the veneration of St. Frances Cabrini will be Dec. 22, the date of her death in Chicago in 1917.

Some 30,000 persons -- Cardinals and lesser prelates, including Monsignor Francis J. Brennon of Shenandoah, Pa., members of the Vatican City and Rome Diplomatic Corps, many thousand members of religious orders, and the lay faithful -- attended the historic ceremony beginning at 8 a.m.

A fanfare of silver trumpets echoed through tlie spacious basilica to announce the canonization of Mother Cabrini. Then the huge bronze bells of the church began pealing a message of rejoicing and those in the Holy City's 500 churches joined in while the pontiff recited a te deum of thanksgiving.

As the throng left the basilica, a small airplane dipped low over St. Peters square. Within 200 feet of the heads of the crowd it dropped memorial holy cards of the new saint with her picture and sacred inscriptions.

Priests, children, American soldiers and high personages in civilian life rushed eagerly to gather the mementos.

The ceremony rich in pomp and pageantry opened when the members on the holy congregation of rites and other prelates, together with all the Cardinals in Rome, convened in a hall, close to the Sistine Chapel and formed a procession.

The Pope, dressed in flowing white robes and wearing the golden triple crown, arrived in the chapel knelt and intoned the Ave Maria. Then he took his place on the gestatorial chair, holding a hand painted candle wrapped in a silken handkerchief.

At 8 a. m. sharp the papal procession entered the basilica. Long lines of Augustine, Capuchin and Dominican monks in brown, black, and black and white, cassocks carried banners and crosses. The stately march continued with canon priests carrying banners, candles and crosses, secular and regular clergy, seminarians and parish priests, priests of pontifical colleges and the basilicas of Rome.

As the Palatine guard struck up a triumphal march at 8:40 a.m., the Pontiff in mitre and flowing robes entered, smiling and blessing the crowd. Thunderous applause filled the cathedral and reverberated throughout the 10 minutes the Pope needed to reach the golden throne.

Monsignor Brennon carried a Papal cross in the procession, which included Monsignor Bernard J. Shiel, auxiliary bishop of Chicago.

The ceremony in which the church down, through, the ages has canonized its saints began at the main altar, with the act of obedience by bishops, archbishops and cardinals, who came to throne to kiss the Pontiff's foot, knee and hand.

Then one of the consistorial lawyers who has pleaded the Cabrini case since she began the ascent to sainthood in 1935 approached the throne and beseeched the pontiff to raise her to the sainthood.

After praying for divine aid, the Pontiff -- a personal friend of Mother Cabrini -- rose for the solemn elevation. He intoned in Latin:

"In honor of the holy indivisible trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and for the increase of Christian religion, with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ of the beatified Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own personal authority; after mature deliberation, after imploring divine aid and hearing the judgment of our venerable brothers, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, the patriarchs, archbishops and bishops present in the city, we decree the appointment of a saint and we inscribe in the Catalogue of Saints the beatified Frances Xavier Cabrini, establishing that her memory must be celebrated in the universal church all the years with pious devotion, that is to say on the day of Dec. 22 in the name of the Father Son and Holy Ghost, Amen.

Mother Cabrini was born at Sant' Angelo Di Lodi, Italy, July 15, 1850, the youngest of 13 sisters. At the age of 39 she landed for the first time in New York to begin the work for which she was canonized.

She founded ths order of ths Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She continued her work tirelessly, opening schools, hospitals and colleges in New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Seattle, Denver and Philadelpiha, and later in South America, Spain, France, Italy and England.

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