‘Cabrini’ is the Hopeful Film We need this Lent – Review

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The life of St. Francis Cabrini depicted in the film ‘Cabrini‘ from Angel Studios shows that God rewards you in your suffering.

The name, “America” in reference to the Americas is named after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Most western Republics, including that of the United States of America is modeled after the Roman Senate and not Greek Democracy. Famed operas, the Medici banking system, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni,  Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino and Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi were some of the greatest artists and minds of the Renaissance. Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei changed science as Europe knew it. Yet, the love for Ancient and Renaissance Italy is the mirror universe for the hatred that Italian immigrants faced at the end of the 19th and into the early 20th Century.

Whether it was the anti-Latin movement, the anti-Catholic ideals of Protestant America or the xenophobia of the, “other,” no non-White Protestant group that migrated to the United States whether by force or their own volition has been accepted upon their arrival.

As xenophobia, religious and linguistic persecution were not already horrible, add misogyny to the mix was not going to make things easy on a foreign nun named Mother Francesca Cabrini, the subject of the latest biopic from Angel Studios simply titled, ‘Cabrini.’

Mother Cabrini is portrayed by Italian Cristiana Dell’Anna. The story begins with a young, Italian, immigrant boy wheeling his dying mother to a hospital begging mercilessly for help as the White Angelo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) hospital staff call him a filthy, illiterate, dog, denying her service and allowed the poor woman to die in the streets.

We learn that Mother Cabrini suffered lung damage from an early age after nearly drowning, but forges on through her sheer tenacity, forcing an audience with Pope Leo XIII (Giancarlo Giannini) in her attempt to create a mission in China. His Holiness instead convinces her to head west to the United States where Italian Catholic immigrants are stuffing, essentially turning her into Archbishop Corrigan’s (David Morse) problem.

The future Catholic saint, rescues prostitutes, orphans, even fights city hall and the Italian parliament, doing the work of God by being able to obtain funding for an orphanage and hospital for the downtrodden of various creeds, all in the face of failing health.

One particular scene in ‘Cabrini‘, when Mayor Jacob Gould (John Lithgow) tells Mother Cabrini that it was ashame that she was born a woman because she would have made an excellent man and she told him men could not do what women do, reminded me of the story of St. Zosimas of Palestine, who asked God what more could men teach him and during lent went out into the desert meeting St. Mary of Egypt, a woman of ill repute that repented, gave her life to the Lord and lived out the remainder of her days as a hermitess. As. Mayor Gould learned from Mother Cabrini about tenacity,  St. Zosimas of Palestine learned humility and repentance from St. Mary of Egypt.

Co-writer and Director Alejandro Monteverde does not lose sight of the irony of the from the poem, “The New Colossus” from the 1883 work of Emma Lazarus etched in bronze on the Statue of Liberty reading, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…”

Being the other is nothing new, as a first generation American of Middle Eastern Ancestry from the Eastern Orthodox Church, I all too well know the xenophobia, the religious persecution (both in the Middle East by Islamists and by American Protestantism) and being called every racial slur new and old.

Every immigrant, every first generation American, every ethnic or religious minority and ESPECIALLY every woman, will find great inspiration in watching the film ‘Cabrini‘.

St. Cabrini’s Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has expanded globally, even to her first choice of helping the impoverished of children of China.

Cabrini‘ opens in theaters on International Women’s Day, Friday, March 8, 2024.

St. Frances Cabrini, Patron Saint of Immigrants, as St. John Chrysostom declared all Christians are foreigners in this fallen world, pray for us.

5

Summary

Cabrini‘ is a triumphant telling of the life of a 20th Century saint that helped redefine American morality. Bring a couple of boxes of tissues and prepare to ugly cry.

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