Mother Cabrini’s Prison Apostolate

Mother Cabrini and her Sisters lived out the words of Matthew 25:36 “…I was in prison and you visited me”.  In her book, Mother Cabrini:  Italian Immigrant of the Century, Sr. Mary Louise Sullivan, MSC.,  provides Mother Cabrini’s own words regarding the prison apostolate.  “The Sisters go regularly to the American prisons to visit the inmates and to teach them Christine doctrine.   They take special care to prepare the unhappy ones who have been condemned to death, to die well….Even desperate cases become tranquil and reconciled with God when they are assured by the Sisters that they would take care of their children and families.”   One of the Missionary Sisters, Mother Ignatius Dossena, regularly visited the penitentiaries of Sing Sing, Elmira, and the Manhattan Detention Complex.  Sr. Ignatius and another Sister were granted access to visit a prisoner in Sing Sing, a certain Luigi Filippelli.  Filippelli had been convicted of murder and was placed in solitary confinement under a sentence of death.  A court order was required for Sr. Ignatius and her companion to gain access to the man.   Sealed and dated Feb 28, 1901, the court order is in the files of the Cabriniana Room.  The court’s document can be viewed here:  27 A Sing Sing court order permitting Sr. Ignatius .

Submitted by:  A. Schwelm, Assistant Library Director

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