From The New York Times:
When the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last year that a new project, She Built NYC, would commission monuments and memorials for undersung female leaders, the Roman Catholic nun who is considered the patron saint of immigrants was not on the shortlist, upsetting her many Italian-American and Catholic fans, especially because in a public poll, she received the most votes.
But after a bureaucratic tussle between the city and state about the issue, on Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled a monument to Francesca Xavier Cabrini in Battery Park City during the state’s Columbus Day celebrations on Monday.
While the pandemic prevented the traditional parade, there was plenty of fanfare in Battery Park City, where a red cloak was removed to reveal the bronze statue after the governor spoke.
“May this statue serve to remind us of the principles that made us great,” the governor said. “Today, the lesson of Mother Cabrini is even more vital because of the difficulties we are facing.”
Quoting Mother Cabrini, he said, “The world is poisoned with erroneous theories and needs to be taught sane doctrines. But it is difficult to strengthen what has become crooked.”
Earlier this year, a commission that included public officials and Italian-Americans selected the artist couple Jill and Giancarlo Biagi to design the sculpture, budgeted at $750,000.
The monument stands against a backdrop of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, depicting Mother Cabrini on a paper boat. The artists said the two children aboard are sailing to the New World from Europe. The girl holds onto the boat, symbolizing her steadfastness while the boy grips his luggage, ready to face the future. A mosaic beneath the sculpture was created, with help from the Cabrini Museum in Italy, with riverbed stones from Mother Cabrini’s birthplace.
From The Tablet:
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn served as co-chairman of the Mother Cabrini Memorial Commission, a panel put together by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year to oversee the design and creation of a statue of the saint.
“This is a wonderful day,” the bishop told The Tablet as he arrived for the ceremony. “She helped build this city.”
Mother Cabrini spent a great deal of time working in Brooklyn after arriving in the U.S. from her native Italy in 1889. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and founded 67 schools, hospitals, and orphanages. She died in 1917 and was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1946.
Given Mother Cabrini’s history of helping immigrants, the fact that the area where her statue stands includes views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is significant. For many years, the Statue of Liberty greeted immigrants arriving in the U.S. by ship. Ellis Island is the place where many immigrants were processed by immigration officials before they were allowed to enter the country.
And the Diocese of Brooklyn is known as the diocese of immigrants.