Could this start a trend?
As has been an annual tradition now in the Colorado Legislature, lawmakers have proposed a bill to abolish Columbus Day as a state holiday.
But this year there is a new approach.
Instead of replacing Columbus Day with Colorado Day — as was attempted last year but ultimately failed, as at least four previous attempts to abolish Columbus Day as a state holiday did — lawmakers this year are proposing to create a new holiday in place of Columbus Day that recognizes humanitarian Frances Xavier Cabrini.
“We cannot continue to celebrate a man whose legacy causes so much pain and suffering to so many in our state,” Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn, said in a statement. “Holidays are a time to reflect on and celebrate the lives of great historical figures whose lives and values we would like to emulate. Columbus does not fit the bill and Francis Xavier Cabrini does; it’s as simple as that.”
House Bill 20-1031 would establish Cabrini Day on the first Monday in October as a state holiday. It would be a paid holiday for state employees, and the bill would remove state sanction of Columbus Day, which occurs a week later. Columbus Day would remain a federal holiday.
In 1904, Cabrini established Denver’s Queen of Heaven Orphanage for girls, and in 1910 she founded a summer camp for the orphanage’s residents in Golden.
I couldn’t help but notice the report declined to mention Mother Cabrini’s status as America’s first saint; she’s merely a “humanitarian.”
Meanwhile, a newspaper editorial in Colorado makes clear not everyone is impressed with this idea:
Frances Xavier Cabrini was a Catholic nun who became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized as a saint. From historical accounts, that honor was well-earned. The things she did for her fellow Italian immigrants in the early part of the 20th Century are laudable.
But does Mother Cabrini rise to the level of warranting an official state holiday? We think not.
Rep. Matt Soper, the Delta Republican who touts himself as being the Legislature’s first Seventh-day Adventist, said on the floor of the Colorado House when the issue was discussed last week that such an idea was offensive, primarily because it advances a single religion.
Others say it’s no different than St. Patrick’s Day, St. Valentine’s Day or even All Saints Day. It is different. None of them are official holidays.
We also agree with Soper when he says that few Coloradans have a clue who Cabrini was. While we don’t want to diminish her life’s work, renaming Columbus Day after her doesn’t seem appropriate, not even close.