Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colorado by William Klein

Well, I hit the road to travel to LA to see some friends and do some networking. Just outside of Denver there is a shrine to St. Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini in Golden, Colorado. Born July 15, 1850, she died December 22, 1917.

Mother Cabrini was an immigrant from Italy who settled in New York upon the urging of Pope Leo XIII. She wanted to establish a mission in China, but he told her she needed to go West instead. Having seen the plight of immigrants coming to the United States, she took up their cause establishing hospitals, orphanages, schools and churches throughout the US. She is the founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and she is the first US citizen to be canonized a saint.

The Shrine tells her story. She established this hilltop orphanage as an escape for children living in Denver. She wanted them to experience the beauty of nature and have a valuable perspective in helping them to see more possibilities and change their lives. 

There is a small museum in the one room stone cottage she built for herself when she stayed there. Artifacts like her bed robe, her cassock, cane and daily living ware are on display. There’s a small book of the many miracles that have been attributed to her.

The Shrine has a small chapel with an attached gift shop. It also has a lifelike representation of Mother Cabrini there. Her piercing blue eyes are stunning and one can get a true sense of the beautiful soul of this woman through the artful representation of her.

The climb up the 375 steps to the top of the shrine was worth it. There is a statue of the sacred heart of Jesus up there along with a rock garden encased in glass that was created by Mother Cabrini. The view from the top of the mountain is spectacular, and I would venture to say the best view of Denver I’ve ever seen. Pictures don’t do it justice.

The stations of the cross adorn the climb and there are places to rest along the way. At the bottom of the mountain there are more chapels but the greatest gift of this Shrine is at the bottom of the hill. There is a small spring that nourishes pilgrims after a hardy and prayerful climb.

Legend has it when Mother Cabrini decided to establish the orphanage there, people warned her that there was no accessible potable water. It was a dry region. Mother Cabrini walked around the site with her cane and tapped a red rock.  “You will find water under that rock,” she said.

The water they found there runs to this day. It is tested monthly and it is the purest tasting water I’ve ever had. Mother Cabrini was known for doing this throughout the United States.

Cabrini holds significance in my life. As I was writing my book about migrants, “Rising on the Road to Freedom,” I drew writer’s block on where I needed to go with it. One day I was inspired to look up who the patron saint of the day was for that day. It turned out to be St. Cabrini, so I went to church that Tuesday night in November. It just so happens that there was a priest there from El Salvador.  I had heard a great deal about him over the years, and he happened to be healing from surgery at the rectory of my church St. Charles in Parma. His name is Father Paul Schindler.

Schindler was personal friends with my hero, St. Archbishop Oscar Romero and his friend Rutilio Grande who has been beatified. Schindler was also responsible for bringing back to Cleveland the bodies of the nuns and the missionary who were martyred in El Salvador in the early 80s.

I met him after Mass in the vestibule and explained who I was. He told me we could set up a time to talk, and he would tell me about the situation in El Salvador. 

The talk we had put me back on track with the book and helped jumpstart the most important writing project of my life to date.

As I was driving along and saw the signs for the Shrine, something told me to go back and say a prayer in the chapel. I’m glad I did. I feel as though it was one of those golden moments that nourishes the spirit and redirects my energy and intentional thinking as I journey back to LA.

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