The “Mother Cabrini Memorial” statue was unveiled on October 12, 2020 and is located behind the Museum of Jewish Heritage, across from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
The memorial stands on a marble base with Mother Cabrini and two children in paper boats, representing the boats she would have folded as a child, filled with violets and placed in the currents outside her home. According to the artists, the paper boats depicted in the statue serve as a symbol of hope and courage.
The young girl holding a book in the memorial represents a young Mother Cabrini and her desire to educate children. The boy is holding luggage and an ocarina, a musical instrument invented near his hometown in Italy and brought to the United States.
“Educating the heart” is the core of Mother Cabrini’s educational method. As has been reiterated several times by the commentaries dedicated to St. Frances Cabrini, the Saint desired that the education she proposed, accomplish the itinerary “from the Heart of Christ to the heart of humanity” and, in this case, to the heart of the child or young person, contributing to the formation of a strong personality.“
“The education of the heart must come to persuasion, must involve the young in the process of their growth, to make them participants in their progress without imposing good in a violent way, but making them love it.”
Cabrinian education of the heart was not, however, directed only at the young.
Today, on the occasion of World Education Day, we also turn our gaze to another statue.
Since September 5, 2019, a life-size sculpture called “Angels Unawares,” part of the Migrants & Refugees Section, has stood in a corner of St. Peter’s Square. The work belongs to Canadian artist and sculptor Timothy Schmalz, and its presence is meant to commemorate the 105th World Migrants and Refugees Day (WDMR) celebrated on September 29, 2019. In one corner under the angel’s wings, Mother Cabrini’s face can be glimpsed.
In his message for WDMR – 2019 Pope Francis said:
“In a word, it is not just the cause of migrants that is at stake; it is not just about them, but about all of us, and about the present and future of the human family. Migrants, especially the most vulnerable ones, help us to read the ‘signs of the times’.”
In fact, Mother Cabrini often said that “Education is half holiness.”
“For this reason, her educational criteria were increasingly oriented towards “forming good Christians and good citizens.” Mother Cabrini cared about the fact that education could really be the privileged means to give an ethical and Christian basis to society. This was the strategy she used when she had to face the world of emigrants in a foreign land.”
If only today we would think of the Day of Education in a broader sense, we would not only be talking about didactics, about teaching, but education in a broader sense, an evangelizing education as Mother Cabrini intended it and in it a message that is addressed to each one of us.
Education, formation, instruction: these were, according to Mother Cabrini, the fundamental resources to face – at least in part – the great challenges that society always placed before her.
Yesterday as well as today.
Source: « Good Christians» and « Good Citizens». The Work, Educational Mission and Pedagogy of St. Frances Cabrini