Today, in glorious weather, the Society of St Hugh of Cluny sponsored a Votive Mass of St Frances Xavier Cabrini at the saint’s shrine in Upper Manhattan. Fr Richard Cipolla was the celebrant; Fr Chris Salvatori was deacon. Music was provided by David Hughes (director and organist), Charles Weaver and Judith Malafronte(members of the schola of St. Mary’s, Norwalk CT). The music included the Mass for Three Voices of William Byrd.
(above) The high altar of the shrine as it appeared shortly after the shrine’s opening circa 1959. From a postcard still being sold today at the shrine! The massive communion rail with quotes from the Traditional Mass, however, remains.(Below) The high altar today, shorn of its tabernacle and many permanently affixed stone candlesticks. The clergy, master of ceremonies and other ministers adapted it with considerable ingenuity to the celebration of a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Fr. Cipolla spoke in his homily of St Frances Xavier Cabrini, who represented an image of the Italian American entirely different from that of today, so often reduced to “three Godfather films, the Sopranos and bad food at a St. Gennaro festival.” She was the 11th and youngest child in her family, and at birth so frail that her imminent death was feared. Yet this was the woman who travelled all of the Americas, surmounting incredible difficulties and hostility – including sometimes from within the Church – to care for the often impoverished Italian immigrant masses. She was a saint who had to lead a life of unceasing practical work on behalf of the poor, a saint who could never be reduced to a figure of mawkish piety. But above all there is this overriding feature of her life and spirituality: despite her immense achievements in health care and education, she never lost sight of the fact that all these works are oriented to and subordinate to the spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.