A warm welcome to the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American Citizen Saint and Patroness of Immigrants and hospital administrators.
My name is Sister Bridget Zanin, MSC. I was born in Brazil and have been a Missionary Sister for over 50 years. I felt a calling at an early age and was attracted to the simplicity and spirit displayed by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the order founded by Mother Cabrini. My true inspiration in joining the Missionary Sisters is credited to my devotion to Mary, the Sacred Heart and a deep desire to have a close relationship with Jesus. In every aspect of Mother Cabrini’s missionary life, she displayed a potent mixture of vibrant spirituality and practical compassion...always motivated by the demands of love.
I am fluent in Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and English. During my life as a Missionary Sister, I have served in many capacities. Some of those roles include Registered Head Nurse, Spiritual Director, Chaplain and Administration.
For the past four years, I have been guiding the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. It has been an honor and privilege for me to serve in this sacred space where miracles often happen. It has been a great pleasure to meet new friends like you. My hope is that you feel welcome here and can discover a peaceful haven where you can be filled with God’s love, peace and comfort.
The National Shrine originally opened in 1955 and for 47 years was connected to Columbus Hospital in Lincoln Park. The hospital and Shrine closed in 2002. Fortunately, the site was redeveloped and ten years later the renovated Shrine reopened as a new entity at Lakeview Avenue and St. James Place. The Shrine stands as a testament to Mother Cabrini as a woman religious, her life, her holiness, her works on behalf of the most vulnerable in Society.
Along with a stunning chapel, we have an exhibit featuring a replica of Mother Cabrini’s room where she died. Features portrayed in the chapel include large fresco murals telling the story of Cabrini’s life and stunning stained glass windows depicting the miracles that led to her beatification and canonization. The Shrine also contains first class relics of St. Frances Cabrini.
I often hear visitors saying "Why did it take me so long to visit? I never imagined her Shrine to be so awe inspiring. Its beauty is striking!" An interesting and meaningful aspect of my role as Shrine Director is when visitors often relate stories of how one of many institutions established by Mother Cabrini profoundly touched their lives. I am very interested in hearing your story about how Mother Cabrini's legacy influenced your life.
I invite and encourage you to explore the depths of beauty and sacredness that exist within these walls. All are welcome to visit the chapel, meditation garden, exhibit, gift shop, take a self-guided tour or schedule a docent-led tour. You may also attend weekend Masses or any of our many scheduled events. I look forward to seeing you!
With prayerful gratitude for each of you!
Sr. Bridget Zanin, MSC
Director of the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
Message from the Rector of The National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
Dear Friends of Mother Cabrini,
Welcome to our National Shrine. The only National Shrine which honors our first canonized American Saint in the world!
There are so many wonderful blessings that I experience as Rector of this Shrine each day. I am humbled and spiritually enriched by our vibrant Liturgies, prayerful Eucharistic Adoration, healing Reconciliation Services, Retreats, Day of Reflection, joyful Sacred Music concerts and most especially the opportunity to welcome and encounter so many faith-filled pilgrims who come alone and in large groups to our Shrine from around the world in search of spiritual renewal.
Above and beyond all these daily blessings, I am most impressed simply with the fact that our Shrine is here to stay. It survived 10 years dormant when a wrecking ball could have doomed it to extinction. However, with the firm hand of God and the lively spirit of Mother Cabrini at work, this did not happen. Today, I am happy to report our Shrine is alive and well and living out the mission of our Chicago saint.
Our Shrine is a living memory of place and time where and when a real American saint lived, worked and died. The place is a single square block bordered by Saint James Place and Lakeview Avenue in the heart of the city of Chicago. The time is then at the turn of the last century but also now as we continue the mission and ministry of our dear Mother with her Religious Congregation of Sisters known as The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I invite you to come to our Shrine and to come often. I believe your visits will remind you of where you have come from and who you are. Your time here in this sacred place will open your eyes to discern where you are now and where you are going in your own pilgrimage of faith. Our Shrine is a glorious and beautiful work made by human hands; however, its precious marbles, frescoes and stained glass windows point to something even more glorious and beautiful. Our Shrine points us to a place beyond itself to the heavenly Jerusalem, our Mother, a city coming down from God, adorned as His bride. "I could not see any temple in the city, for the Lord Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple" (Revelations 21:22).
Blessings to each of you in your spiritual journey towards the Holy City of God,
Fr. Ted Ploplis
Rector of The National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini