Mother Cabrini Shrine Golden, Colorado
About Mother Cabrini:
In September 1887, Cabrini went to seek the pope’s approval to establish missions in China. Instead, he urged that she go to the United States to help the Italian immigrants who were flooding to that nation, mostly in great poverty. “Not to the East, but to the West” was his advice. Mother Cabrini left for the United States, arriving in New York City on March 31, 1889, along with six other sisters. In New York she encountered disappointment and difficulties. Archbishop Michael Corrigan, who was not immediately supportive, found them housing at the convent of the Sisters of Charity. She obtained the archbishop’s permission to found the Sacred Heart Orphan Asylum in rural West Park, New York, later renamed Saint Cabrini Home.
Mother Cabrini organized catechism and education classes for the Italian immigrants and provided for many orphans’ needs. She established schools and orphanages despite many challenges. She was skilled at finding people who would donate what she needed in money, time, labor, and support. In New York City, she founded Columbus Hospital ( later merged with Italian Hospital to become Cabrini Medical Center from 1973 to 2008, after which it closed).
The history of the Mother Cabrini Shrine:
In 1909 -1910, Mother Cabrini negotiated the purchase of some land in Golden, Colorado to be used as a summer camp for her charges at the Queen of Heaven Orphanage in Denver. A farming operation, with poultry, other livestock and dairy cows, was established and maintained by three of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart who set up living quarters in the loft of the larger barn. During the summer months, groups of about twenty girls, according to age, would spend several weeks at the summer camp.
All of the water needed for drinking and cooking had to be brought up to the summer camp from the stream at the bottom of Mt. Vernon Canyon. In September 1912, the sisters complained to Mother Cabrini that they were dying of thirst and there was no water to be had. She answered, “Lift that rock over there and start to dig. You will find water fresh enough to drink and clean enough to wash.” The spring, which is housed in an 8,000 gallon tank, has never stopped running. A replica of the grotto of Lourdes, France, was built over this spring in 1929 and was demolished and replaced in 1959 by the present one, built of sandstone.
It was during Mother Cabrini’s last visit to the foothills in 1912 that she and a builder, Thomas Eckrom, drew up the plans for the Stone House that would serve as a dormitory for the girls. The house was to be built of native rock. She called the sisters who were with her and said, “daughters, I dropped my cane… go back and find it. Where you find it make a sign with stones because that is where the house is to be built.”
The land was on a level spot overlooking the city of Denver. Each evening the girls would load a cart, drawn by a donkey, with stones from a nearby quarry for the next day’s building activity. The construction of the Stone House commenced in the fall of 1912 and was finally completed in 1914.
The house was used as a summer camp for the girls from the Queen of Heaven orphanage. The ground floor of the Stone House has the chapel, sleeping quarters for the supervising Sisters, a living room, an entry area with main staircase, a back staircase, and several small utility areas which remain basically unchanged. The second and third floors were open dormitory areas. Upon the closing of the Queen of Heaven Orphanage in 1967, the summer camp became a year around retreat facility, and a place for small prayer gatherings. Today, the Stone House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mother Cabrini Shrine today:
The beautiful stained-glass windows, just off the main chapel, depict Mother Cabrini’s life, her birth, her confirmation, her missionary vocation, the founding of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, her meeting with Pope Leo the XIII, her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the voyage to America, working with Italian immigrants, crossing the Andes, Mother Cabrini’s death, her miraculous cure of infant Peter Smith, and her canonization to sainthood. The windows originally came from Villa Cabrini in Burbank, California, which was a school formerly sponsored by the Missionary Sisters.
Heart of Stones
On her last visit to Colorado in 1912, Mother Cabrini took several sisters and a few of the children from the orphanage by horse and buggy along a cow path to the foot of the highest hill. Leaving the buggy at the base, they climbed to the top where they gathered white stones and arranged them on the mountain in the shape of a Heart surmounted by a cross; with the smaller stones, she formed a crown of thorns on the highest promontory, overlooking the city of Denver. Frances X. Cabrini dedicated the hill to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, naming it the “Mount of the Sacred Heart”. Those stones are still present there beneath a glass case and preserved for all to see.
Stairway of Prayer
In 1954 a twenty-two foot statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, carved by an Italian artist was mounted on an eleven foot base and erected above the Heart of Stones. Beginning September 11, 1954, 373 steps leading up to the top of the Mount of the Sacred Heart were placed and completed in just 67 days. The stairway follows the path Mother Cabrini, the sisters and the children took to the top of the mountain.
The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart moved to the Stone House and resided there until the convent was completed in June of 1970. This three-story structure is built of Williamsburg brick. It contains a chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart, meeting rooms, a gift shop with an exhibit of artifacts and clothing used by Mother Cabrini, housing for the resident Sisters, and overnight accommodations for visitors.
The Shrine is open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and there are daily Masses at the Shrine.
Traveling to the Mother Cabrini Shrine:
Address: 20189 Cabrini Blvd., Golden, CO 80401
GPS coordinates: 39° 42′ 24.2568” N, 105° 13′ 54.5016” W
email: check their website for current email addresses
Click here for the official website of the Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colorado.
Here is a great video produced by the Shrine.
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