Publisher’s Point: “Live Bold Or Die”- Francesca Cabrini

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

In this season where new life is celebrated as it pops up in nature, Passover, and the Resurrection, I would like to commend a cinematic celebration in the form of Angel Studios’ most recent release, Cabrini. It is a biopic whose titular character is Francesca Xavier Cabrini, the woman who, along with the sisters in the order she founded, were able to open a total of 67 schools, orphanages, and hospitals. Her last project was the Cabrini Hospital where I was born and raised, and she died not long after the project was complete.

There are many words one could use to describe Mother Cabrini, and they include doggedly determined, courageous, and at times a plain ol’ pain in the southern forty. She came to New York from Italy in 1899, and set to work. No small task, this. Cabrini had a saying, and it was, We are bold or we die; that’s how I learned to live in America.

She was frail and she was a lioness. She had a vision for building an “empire of hope” around the world, and by the time she opened Cabrini in Seattle, (which she did not name after herself; that happened in 1925, eight years after her death) she had faced death, disease, and despair, especially amongst immigrant children. She got herself arrested, which caused a scandal in the Catholic Church, and she also had the blessing of Pope Leo XIII to start her first mission in New York City. Prime real estate came her way, and she enlisted the help of other immigrants who had become successful in this nation that some believed had streets paved in gold.

To say that Cabrini faced resistance is an understatement, and at the time of her arrival, Italian immigrants were largely despised in New York. She allegedly told the mayor that one day an Italian would be mayor, a prophecy that has come true more than once, and one of my favorite stories about her is stated below:

I had an elderly friend whose husband met Mother Cabrini when he was a child in the early 1900s. He suffered a ruptured appendix and the accompanying peritonitis. This happened decades before antibiotics. As he lay dying in the hospital, Mother Cabrini came into his room. She told him that he would not die, but would grow up to save many lives. He became a cardiologist and did just that.

So, if we are going to talk about underdogs, resistance, and downright hatred, I think it only fitting to mention Angel Studios, who produced Sound of Freedom, The Shift, and other films that dare to venerate virtue, because they are the ones who have given us Cabrini. Visually and in terms of the acting it is stunning, and as I looked at what she faced in order to be able to minister, especially to children, I realized that I had been whining about a whole lot of stuff. Fact is, I needed to pipe down and give my own attitude about having to do hard stuff a huge adjustment. This film is a lovely way to do just that, and I hope you’ll see Cabrini.