As a little girl, St. Frances had a burning desire to be a missionary in China. She invited a game of sailing paper boats in a stream by her house. She gave up candy because "she probably couldn't enjoy candy in China."
After overcoming many obstacles to her vocation to religious life, St. Frances found herself face to face with the Pope. She asked for the Pope's blessing to start her new order of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to evangelize China. This was the moment she dreamed of as a child.
The Pope said No!
The Pope said, "Go West, not East." With tears in his eyes, the Pope told St. Frances about all the suffering Italian immigrants faced in America. They didn't know the language. Because of racism, Italian immigrants had trouble finding work or even receiving the sacraments from the Irish dominated American Catholic clergy. "Our country men are in grave danger of losing their faith, it weighs heavily on my heart. Won't you go to America and help them?" the Pope asked.
St. Frances shoved her childhood dream in a drawer and a said YES!
Once she got in America, St. France had a chilly welcome. As soon as she got off the boat, the Archbishop of New York said "Why are you here? Didn't you get my letter telling you and your Sisters aren't needed. We have Nuns enough in New York already!"
St. Frances said determinedly "Your excellency, the Pope sent me here and here I must stay!"
Since no one in New York City wanted them, no preparations had been made for the Sisters. Her first night in America, St. Frances and her companions spent a night in such a seedy hotel that the rats came out and daringly chewed on this Sister's petticoats. St. Frances was forced to arrange for the Sisters to sleep in shifts to take turns chasing away the brazen rats with a burning oil lamp.
St. Frances didn't let this cool reception deter her. She started at once helping the poor and the sick. She built hospitals, and schools and orphanages all over the United States. Near death in 1917, she roused herself from sickness to make sure that the children in the Chicago hospital that she had founded had candy for their Christmas stockings.
She became the first American citizen to be named a Saint in 1946.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini pray for us!