Mother Cabrini and Me

cabrini shrine

I first met Mother Cabrini through a book called “Immigrant Saint,” by Pietro di Donato, published in 1960. I thought it was a truly moving story and wanted to make her story accessible to children. Her work in New York City especially with orphans, makes a lovely children’s story. I wrote “The Orphans Find a Home,” in 1996, in which three orphan girls are rescued from their furnace room (rather than the sewers, as seen in the movie). The girls are brought to Mother Cabrini’s home, which was the home formerly owned by the Jesuits, named Manresa. I sent the book to Our Sunday Visitor and got the best rejection letter ever! The acquisitions editor told me that the book was wonderful and story needed to be told. Unfortunately, OSV had no place in their catalog for a chapter book for young readers. My husband then encouraged me to publish the book myself. That publishing house is now over 25 years old and has dozens of books, as well as all the product lines for Little Flowers Girls’ Club®, Blue Knights Boys’ Clubs and our other virtue based programs for youth.

The Cabrini Movie

I enjoyed the movie very much and loved that it was the same time frame as my book on Mother Cabrini. The movie was far grittier and widely appealing to an older age group than the book, which is perfect for ages 7-12. I used my research from “Immigrant Saint,” as well as several other biographies to write The Orphans Find a Home. I also obtained research from the archives at Manresa, to write the book, however, some of the characters are fictional. The three orphan girls are real, but they their names and back stories are historical fiction.

Did the movie show Mother Cabrini’s piousness or religious motivations? I think it did. Although her charism was action oriented, I know from my research that Mother did what she did out of love of God. In the movie, the word “ambition” is used to describe Mother Cabrini’s actions. In my experience, it was her “mission” rather than her “ambition” that allowed her to do the things she needed to do for Christ. What did Mother Cabrini rely on for her strength, which didn’t come out in the movie? Mother’s order is the “Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.” If you look closely at the end of the movie, the foundations that Mother Cabrini founded are pinned with a Sacred Heart on the map of the world. So the movie tries hard to show her piety, you just have to look harder.

After reading the Orphans Find a Home, or Immigrant Saint, why not watch the moving again! You may pick on things you missed about the life of this incredible American Saint!

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