On September 30, 2012, the chapel that was once part of Columbus Hospital in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood was rededicated by Cardinal Francis George as the Mother Cabrini Shrine. Closed for 10 years, the shrine was once the chapel for the hospital which was torn down to make way for a luxury condominium tower. The shrine is located on the site where St. Frances Xavier Cabrini died in 1917.
Mother was the first American citizen to be declared a saint and the foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As an immigrant from Italy, she knew what it was like to arrive in a foreign country and be unwelcome. But she carried out the Holy Father’s wishes and built hospitals, orphanages and schools in the New World – 67 foundations in her lifetime! Her motto came from Philippians 3:14: I can do all things in Him who strengthens me!”
Pope John Paul II said, “Her extraordinary activity drew its strength from prayer, especially from long periods before the tabernacle. Christ was everything to her.” In keeping with her spirit of prayer, the shrine is open for Eucharistic Adoration every Friday. If there are enough adorers, the hours will increase. When I was there, I was impressed by the steady stream of people who came and prayed.
The shrine itself is incredibly beautiful, a dazzling array of gold mosaics, carrera marble, frescoes and Florentine stained glass. In addition to the chapel, there is a small museum where you can see the bed where Mother died and other mementos of her life. There are also rooms available for meetings which the shrine staff will be using to introduce children along with their parents to the power of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
The shrine is nestled among high rise condos, vintage brownstones, brick apartments and busy Lincoln Park on Lake Michigan. As more people discover this oasis in the desert, perhaps it will become a center for spiritual renewal in the heart of the big city. As we pray for religious freedom in our country, Mother reminds us that “we make a serious mistake …if the foundation stone of our moral edifice be other than Christ and His Church.”