Address: 20189 Cabrini Blvd, Golden, CO 80401
A shrine to honor the Patroness of Immigrants, the first American citizen to be canonized, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Mother Cabrini) and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, sits in a picturesque location overlooking Denver, Colorado. The shrine complex originated with the building of the Stone House (completed in 1914) to be used as a summer camp for girls from the Queen of Heaven Orphanage, and expanded on a 900-acre hilltop site overlooking Mount Vernon Canyon near the Rocky Mountain front range. On the first level of the shrine is a chapel, museum and visitor center. High above the center of activities, at the end of a 373-step stairway traversing the original path taken by Mother Cabrini and her sisters, is a spectacular, 22-foot high statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus carved by an Italian artist. The statue, visible from the busy Interstate 70 below, was erected in 1954. At the base of the pathway to the “Mount of the Sacred Heart” (named by Mother Cabrini) is the prayerful grotto dedicated to Mother Cabrini. In the serene atmosphere, one can light a candle to be placed with other candles flickering with the petitions of the faithful to the Jesus through the intercession of Mother Cabrini. Nearby the grotto is the miraculous spring with continues to supply the shrine with water from the source found by Mother Cabrini on a visit to the location in 1912. The shrine is a 25-minute drive from Denver and is open 7 days a week attracting visitors seeking the natural beauty of the place – and the solace of the love and mercy of the Sacred Heart as Mother Cabrini found on this spot over 100 years ago.
Special things to see at the Shrine
• “Must see’s” are the Grotto and Statue of the Sacred Heart (both described above).
• An arrangement of white stones in the shape of a heart is at the foot of the tall statue of the Sacred Heart. The image was created by Mother Cabrini and several sisters on a 1912 visit to the highest point on the shrine property. The heart, crowned with thorns, is preserved beneath a plexiglass cover – and is dotted with coins from visitors experiencing the work of art by Mother Cabrini and her sisters.
• The Cabrini Museum is located in the pump house – one of the original buildings on the property. The museum is filled with historical photos, artifacts used by Mother Cabrini and a replica of her bedroom. The well-done displays illustrate the timeline of Mother Cabrini’s life and accomplishments in a pleasant, historic setting.
• The stairway to the top of the Mount of the Sacred Heart is lined with Stations of the Cross, each with scenes in colorful stone mosaics made in Italy. Further along are depictions of each of the Mysteries of the Rosary. The 373-step stairway can be strenuous, but is worth the effort for those who are able. (Those unable to make the climb can request vehicle transportation to the top – weather-permitting.)
• The rich, wood-paneled Main Chapel is highlighted by a mural of the Sacred Heart behind the altar; and is filled with stained glass windows telling the story of Mother Cabrini’s life and works. The windows were previously part of the Villa Cabrini in Burbank, CA (a former school of the Missionary Sisters). Masses are held in the Chapel daily.
Interesting Facts About the Shrine
The Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini was an Italian-born woman (July 15, 1850) who immigrated to the U.S. and became the first U.S. Citizen to be canonized on July 7, 1946. In 1880, the future saint, along with 7 other women, founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They originally wanted to be missionaries in China, but were advised by Pope Leo XIII to go to the U.S. to minister to the Italian immigrants. (At her profession of religious vows in 1877, Frances Cabrini added the name “Xavier” as a tribute to the Jesuit, St. Francis Xavier, who evangelized in the Far East.) Mother Cabrini arrived in New York City in 1889 and went on to found 67 institutions (schools, hospitals and orphanages) 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. Mother Cabrini first visited Denver in 1902 at the request of Fr. Mariano LePore and Bishop Nicholas Chrysostom Matz. She founded what would become the Mount Carmel grade school and high school; and in 1905 opened the Queen of Heaven Orphanage. A summer camp for the orphans was the first structure (The Stone House) that she directed to be built on the property of what is now the Mother Cabrini Shrine. On her visits to Denver, Mother Cabrini was known to visit the Italian communities, including visits to the mines in the surrounding area where many Italian immigrants labored. One can see reminders of Mother Cabrini’s impact in many Denver churches including Our Lady of Mount Carmel Italian Catholic Church and St. Joseph Church.
On March 10, 2020, the Colorado legislature established Mother Cabrini Day as a Colorado State Holiday. The first paid state holiday in the U.S. that recognizes a woman is celebrated on the first Monday in October. The day is to honor the humanitarian woman for her dedication to the poor and sick and leading to the establishment of institutions to address health, nutrition, education, and protection across the U.S. Mother Cabrini died on December 22, 1917 and her feast day is celebrated in the Catholic Church on November 13th.