I’VE talked about Frances Xavier Cabrini before, on the Boulevard that bears her name way uptown in Washington Heights. Well, if George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, as well as a plethora of other figures, can have more than one street named for them, why not Mother Cabrini…and that’s what happened in 2017, when the NE corner of 3rd Avenue and East 19th Street was named Mother Cabrini Way, on the centennial of her death.
The Catholic saint, born in Lodi on the Italian peninsula (then a part of the Austrian empire) became a nun at age 27 after the deaths of her parents. Born Francesca Saverio Cabrini, she added “Xavier” to her name to honor patron saint Francis Xavier. Interested in founding missionaries, she helped found the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1880, and she traveled to the USA in 1889 and organized catechism and schooling for Italian immigrants, using great powers of persuasion to accrue donations, eventually founding Italian Hospital, later the Cabrini Medical Center, which remained open until 2008.
The tireless Cabrini 1850-1917) founded over 60 schools and orphanages throughout the United States, South America and Europe. She became a United States citizen in 1909, eight years before her death. She was beatified in 1938 (the first step in becoming a saint) and finally canonized in 1946. She was the first naturalized US citizen to become a saint; Elizabeth Bayley Seton was the first native-born US citizen to do so. There are three shrines to her honor in the USA, in Chicago; Golden, Colorado; and Washington Heights, New York, several miles south of her original burial plot in West Park in Ulster County.
Why 3rd Avenue and East 19th? The co-naming also commemorates the Cabrini Medical Center, which was located at 227 East 19th Street from 1973 to 2008.
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Cabrini Boulevard was originally called Northern Avenue and was renamed in 1938 for Mother Cabrini. Part of her remains are enshrined at the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine, at 701 Fort Washington Avenue, the western entrance of which is on Cabrini Boulevard. Information is from Wikipedia; link to full article is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabrini_Boulevard.
Northern Avenue was certainly appropriate, but it has no connection, or resemblance, to Northern Boulevard in Queens. There is, of course, a major Bronx boulevard named Southern, even though it is ironically north of its counterpoint in Queens. The Bronx also had an Eastern Boulevard which was renamed in the 1940s for long-serving borough president Henry Bruckner. Finally, Manhattan once had a Western Boulevard, the northern extension of Broadway above 59th Street. It became Broadway in 1899, creating the one street that runs for all of Manhattan’s north-south length.
Today Cabrini Medical Center which closed in 2006 is 140 apartments.
Excuse the typo, the hospital closed in 2008.