Rare photos: How America’s first saint nearly went down with the R.M.S. Titanic

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They would be disappointed of course. They wanted to see her one more time before she left for New York. They were also working to secure passage for her, Sister Antony, and Sister Mary aboard this grand new ship that was to depart from the port in Southampton, about a day’s ride to the south of the Convent in Honor Oak, which is near Charing Cross Station.

Perhaps it was Mother’s frail health, or perhaps it was the urgency with which she felt compelled to cut her trip to Europe short due to new challenges facing the expansion of Columbus Hospital, or perhaps, more probably, it was Divine intervention. Whatever it was, it prevented Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini from setting off on her journey to London to board the R.M.S. Titanic, and put her aboard the SS Berlin in Naples bound for New York instead. It spared her life.

Child - Maria - Francesca - Cabrini - Brush

As a child, Maria Francesca Cabrini had a brush with death at age seven in a near drowning accident thought to have occurred at Lambro Meridionale, a canal that runs through her home town of Sant’Angelo Lodigiano. This traumatic event forever scarred her with a profound fear of the water. This, however, did not get in the way of her undertaking 23 trans-Atlantic voyages on her mission to establish schools, orphanages, and religious communities around the globe.

From an early age Cabrini longed to be a missionary, a longing only second to her desire to serve Christ. Her diminutive figure, frail health and the culture’s resistance to the idea of a female missionary all paled in comparison to her profound trust in God and radical zeal to serve others, two qualities that carried her through a lifetime’s worth of triumphs and tragedies.

March - Mother - Companions

In March of 1889, Mother and her Sister companions set out on their...
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