“Cabrini” (2024) – Movie Review: Lacking of Spirituality and More of Just Social Work

“Cabrini,” a film purportedly about the life of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, renowned for her charitable endeavors in the United States. Saint Cabrini’s legacy is woven with threads of compassion, dedication, and spiritual fervor, as she tirelessly worked to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. However, the cinematic portrayal of her life takes a divergent path, focusing more on social activism and feminism than on the spiritual essence that defined her mission.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini: A Beacon of Compassion

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini stands tall in history, revered for her unwavering commitment to serving the vulnerable and marginalized. Arriving in the United States in the late 19th century, she encountered numerous challenges but remained resolute in her mission to establish orphanages, hospitals, and schools. Her vision was guided by Gospel values, advocating for the defense of human dignity and the cultivation of peace.

A Distorted Cinematic Narrative

Despite her profound spirituality, “Cabrini” veers away from portraying Saint Cabrini’s deep faith and spiritual practices. The movie neglects pivotal moments of prayer and fails to depict her devotion to Saint Joseph or the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Instead, it paints a picture of a solely secular pursuit, emphasizing feminism, activism under the guise of affirmative action, and social work.

There was no mention of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, no moments of prayer and significant gospel sharing, not even a single gesture of the sign of the cross that I can recall from Mother Cabrini in this movie. The movie didn’t also show that Mother Cabrini’s intent to care for a hospital in New York City was because she had a dream of the Blessed Mother. She saw in her dream that the Blessed Mother was caring for patients in a hospital, and when Mother Cabrini asked her why she was doing that, her reply was because she was not doing it. This dream motivated her to extend her charitable works in the fields of medical care.

Misinterpretation of History

The film subtly twists historical facts, presenting a narrative that suggests Saint Cabrini faced discrimination solely due to her gender. While acknowledging the challenges she undoubtedly encountered as a woman, the movie exaggerates these aspects, overshadowing the genuine concerns regarding her health and the geopolitical climate of the time, which were the main reasons why she would face being hindered by some superiors.

Composite Characters and Fabricated Scenarios

“Cabrini” takes creative liberties by introducing composite characters like Dr. Murphy and opera singer Disalvo, blurring some lines between fact and fiction. The depiction of Mother Cabrini storming the Italian Senate, although dramatic, lacks substantial historical evidence, relegating it to the realm of conjecture rather than accuracy.

The real Mother Cabrini vs. the movie character

The real Mother Cabrini was a humble and well composed person. Besides being prayerful, she was a person who trusted her mission to the Divine Providence. She was kind and showed gratitude to those she asked favors from, especially towards those lay people who extended help to her mission. She didn’t bother herself with the disparity of men and women, but rather did her best to bring about the best in both, doing so with great joy and patience. It is her humility towards God, church, and people that made her successful in her mission.

In contrast, the movie depicted her as a fiery person who was always willing to intrude and somewhat had a superiority complex over men. At the near end of the movie, when the mayor of New York City said “It’s a shame you’re a woman, Mother. You would have made a nice lead man.” She replies, “Oh no mister mayor, man can never do what we do”.

In essence, “Cabrini” falls short of capturing the true essence of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini’s life and legacy. By prioritizing themes of activism over spirituality and resorting to fictionalized elements, the film misses an opportunity to convey the profound faith and unwavering dedication that characterized Mother Cabrini’s mission. While it sheds light on important societal issues, it does so at the expense of distorting historical truths and overshadowing the spiritual cornerstone of her remarkable journey. Maybe it really is just a flick to capitalize on International Women’s Day than to expose to wonderful faith of an amazing woman.

As viewers, it’s imperative to discern between cinematic dramatization and the authentic narrative of a saint whose legacy continues to inspire generations.

A Better “Mother Cabrini” Movie

Here is a better and more accurate depiction about the journey of Mother Cabrini as shared in YouTube. You may also buy or rent this movie from EWTN here: https://ondemand.ewtn.com/paid/Home/Series/catalog/video/en/mother-cabrini