Mother Cabrini had intended to begin her ministry in Chicago with the founding of an orphanage. At the request of the Archbishop, however, Mother turned toward health care and converted an old hotel into Columbus Hospital. Opened in 1905, Mother Cabrini died in the hospital in 1917 at the age of 67. In the late 1940s, the original Columbus Hospital was demolished to make way for the new Columbus hospital. To preserve the room where Mother Cabrini died, it was dismantled board-by-board and rebuilt in an annex off the new hospital’s chapel. A beautiful Romanesque structure, the chapel became known as the National Shrine of St. Frances Cabrini. The National Shrine consisted of a chapel, the room where Mother Cabrini died and a gift shop. The room where Mother died was preserved exactly as it was in 1917 with the iron bed, her kneeler, desser and desk. The 1940’s Columbus Hospital stood until about 2008 when it was raised to make room for a luxury high rise. Before construction on the new high rise was allowed to begin however, the Missionary Sisters and the Archdiocese of Chicago ensured that the beautiful chapel would not be disturbed and the chapel was enclosed in a protective structure.
The shrine’s relic, the humerus bone of Mother Cabrini’s right arm, was relocated to the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago’s Little Italy. The Church holds devotions to Mother Cabrini twice a month.
Submitted by: A. Schwelm, Assistant Library Director