Colorado just replaced Columbus Day with Cabrini Day, but who is Cabrini?
Among coronavirus announcements from Gov. Jared Polis’ office, this week, he announced that Colorado would no longer celebrate Columbus Day. Instead, on the second Monday in October, Colorado will celebrate Frances Xavier Cabrini.
“I think it’s a great day for Colorado that we can say, ‘we no longer support a racist holiday,’ and we will be able to celebrate a great humanitarian in Frances Cabrini,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, to the Denver Post.
The bill was signed this month and is the first paid state holiday to recognize a woman. But who even is Frances Xavier Cabrini?
Among her many accomplishments, Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants in the Catholic church and was the first U.S. citizen to be canonized. She was born in 1850 in Cadogno, Italy – did the last name give it away? – and had wanted to be a missionary in China. It was the late 1800s and Pope Leo XIII convinced her to go west instead of east.
She and six sisters arrived in New York City to start an orphanage, but when the building wasn’t available, the archbishop told her to return home. But Cabrini was determined and established her orphanage. It was still open until 2011 in West Park, New York, and was known as the Saint Cabrini Home. Now, it’s been demolished due to disrepair and asbestos.
Over the course of 35 years, Cabrini would establish 67 institutions, such as schools, orphanages and hospitals across the United States. Her travels brought her to Colorado, where she loved the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Denver.
In 1902, she visited Italian mining families in Clear Creek, Argentine and South Park and learned that there was no water on a property by the east slope of Lookout Mountain. She purchased the land, which had barns and a springhouse, as a summer camp for her girls at Queen of Heaven Orphanage. Today, that summer camp and the surrounding buildings are part of the Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden.
Part of the reason the state Legislature chose Mother Cabrini was because of her connections to the state, and Columbus has none. This is the seventh time the Legislature has worked to pass a bill changing the Columbus Day tradition. Previous efforts wanted to change it to Colorado Day, an Election Day holiday and Indigenous Peoples Day.
All Republican representatives in both the House and the Senate voted against the bill. They said it was rewriting history, and defended Columbus by saying that all people have a dark side to their story, and that shouldn’t count against him.
“The continuation of a racist holiday hurts people, and this says that we as a state no longer want to be party to that,” Benavidez said.
When is Frances Xavier Cabrini Day 2020?
Monday, October 12
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A Nov. 30 to Governor Polis and the Eagle County Commissioners from Beaver Creek Resorts Company – as well as the towns of Vail, Avon, Eagle and Minturn – requests a variance program which would allow businesses to remain open.