New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the state will erect a statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.
The announcement comes two months after a New York City public arts program decided they would not build a statue of Mother Cabrini, despite the saint topping a poll organized by the program.
During a public nominations period for the She Built NYC program, Mother Cabrini received 219 nominations--more than double the number received by Jane Jacobs, who received the second-most nominations.
In an announcement at the annual Columbus Day Parade in New York on Oct. 14, Cuomo said, “We’re also pleased to announce we’re going to build a statue to Mother Cabrini.”
The move was immediately welcomed by the Diocese of Brooklyn.
“I welcome the assistance the Governor is promising in erecting a statue for Mother Cabrini, which we hope is a monument to her for her work on behalf of immigrants,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn on Monday.
Cabrini was the founder of the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and opened and operated many schools and orphanages in New York City. She was canonized in 1946, the first naturalized American citizen to be declared a saint, and she is venerated as the patron of immigrants.
The Diocese of Brooklyn participated in the annual Columbus Day parade on Monday, marching with a float and banner in honor of the saint and calling for the erection of a statute in her honor.
“Almost all of our churches in Brooklyn have a statue of Mother Cabrini. It’s not another statue we’re talking about. It’s respect for immigrants,” DiMarzio said.
“We will work with Governor Cuomo's office to make it happen.”
The state commission will work alongside the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Italian-American heritage organization the Columbus Citizens Foundation to construct the statue. Cabrini was an Italian immigrant who arrived in New York in the late 19th century.
The She Built NYC program was created to increase the number of statues of women throughout the city. In mid-August, the program’s selection committee, led by Chirlane McCray, married to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and former deputy mayor Alicia Glen, announced that statues were to be built of Rep. Shirley Chisolm, Katherine Walker, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Billie Holiday, and Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias. They received the third, fifth, seventh, 19th, 22nd, 24th and 42nd-most nominations, respectively.
Johnson and Rivera, who are both biological men who identified as “drag queens,” will appear on a statue together.
In August, a spokesperson for Ms. McCray told CNA that the public nominations process was not intended to determine which women would be honored, but only to inform the judgment of the selection committee.
“Nominations made by the public were the foundation of this entire process – only those submitted were considered by the advisory committee and the City,” Siobhan Dingwall, press secretary for the Office of the First Lady in New York City, told CNA in a statement.
In addition to the public nominations, She Built NYC also considered other factors, such as proposed locations, existing monuments, and site availability when deciding who and where to erect new statues.