On the southwest corner of the nave is the prayerful Infant Mary Chapel. This quiet and peaceful chapel contains a beautiful white marble altar with a gold tabernacle below a glass-encased image of the Maria Bambina (Baby Mary) which when lit shines in glowing red off the backdrop curtains.
The chapel is reflective of many devotions special to the faithful of Italian-heritage. The devotion to Maria Bambina started in Italy, particularly in Milan where a church was dedicated to Santa Maria Fulcorina (Mystery of the Nativity of Mary) in 1007 A.D.; and the present-day cathedral built in 1572 A.D. is called the Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente (The Nativity of Mary). Similar to the Infant Jesus devotion, the devotion to the Infant Mary reflects her innocence and queenship. Many miracles have been attributed to the intervention of Mary after prayers before a wax image of Maria Bambina made by Sister Isabella Chiara Fornari, superior of the Poor Clares in Todi (central Italy) in 1735 A.D.
Two women saints of Italian heritage are depicted in the chapel: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and St. Gemma Galgani. A statue of Mother Cabrini in her dark-brown Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus habit (founded by the Saint) is in the corner of the chapel and was donated by the Italian Catholic Federation. The east side wall of the chapel has a colorful stained-glass window showing a descriptive schematic of the life and accomplishments of Mother Cabrini. The deep-blue clothed Saint is overlaid on a map between the U.S. and Italy on the window donated in memory of Joseph Pesci. The map includes cities where work is being performed in the name of Mother Cabrini. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was an Italian-born woman who immigrated to the U.S. in 1889 and became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized on July 7, 1946. Mother Cabrini founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. She was particularly dedicated to fulfilling the needs of Italian immigrants such as herself. A statue of the Italian mystic, St. Gemma Galgani, is in the southwest corner of the chapel looking upward to heaven as she holds a cross and white lilies of purity. The Saint, born in 1878 in a small Italian town near Lucca, is known as the “Daughter of Passion” or “Passion Flower” for her intense love of Jesus and His Passion. She had nearly 2,000 mystical experiences in her short life of 25 years and received the marks of the stigmata at age 21. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII on May 2, 1940. Her feast day is on April 11th, the date of her death in 1903.
The chapel also includes six pews and candle stands on either side of the altar beneath stained-glass windows of the Good Samaritan and the Holy Mass which were dedicated on September 8, 1957. The walls of the chapel are lined with stations showing the Seven Sorrows of Mary, starting with The Prophesy of Simeon which foretold the future sorrows, and progressing through Jesus’ death, before ending with number seven, Jesus is Laid in the Tomb. These lifelike and colorful stations were donated by Joseph Antonia Toccalini.
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Catholic Online Saints & Angels – St. Gemma Galgani – https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=225
Fisheaters – Maria Bambina – https://www.fisheaters.com/childjesus.html
Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – https://www.mothercabrini.org/
St. Gemma Galgani – https://www.stgemmagalgani.com/