New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Unveils Catholic Nun Statue In Honor Of Italian-American Legacy


Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a statue of Mother Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants in the Roman Catholic Church, in Manhattan on Monday, numerous sources reported.

The event took place on Columbus Day and comes a year after Cuomo announced that the state would commission a statue to the Italian-American nun, who was canonized in 1946 by Pope Pius XII, ABC 7 reported.

“This year we unveil a magnificent monument to our Italian-American legacy and that monument will stand for all-time,” Cuomo said according to ABC 7.

“Mother Cabrini is the personification of the Italian-American legacy,” he said. “She founded 67 schools, hospitals and orphanages. She served the poor and the immigrants. She had boundless energy and unlimited capacity and she was a model for female empowerment before the expression was ever used – doing all of this in the late 1800s and early 1900s.”

The bronze memorial sits on a marble base and depicts Mother Cabrini on a paper boat with two children, to represent the paper boats she would fold and fill with violets as a child, according to ABC 7. The boats serve as a symbol of hope, courage, and Mother Cabrini’s determination in the face of adversity, because although the boats are fragile and delicate, they can stay afloat. The figures all face the Statue of Liberty from Manhattan’s Battery Park City.

The memorial includes interpretative panels highlighting Mother Cabrini’s service to Italian-American immigrants in the late 19th century and into the 20th century, when she organized catechism and education classes for the immigrants and established orphanages despite steep costs. 

Calls to remove statues of Christopher Columbus — or end the commemoration of his legacy in a federal holiday — have been resisted by Cuomo. He said Saturday that Italian-Americans will now have “two great statues in New York City — the Christopher Columbus statue and the Mother Cabrini statue,” according to Crux. The Columbus Day Parade that is typically held in New York City was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In August, a Philadelphia art commission decided to remove a 144-year-old statue of Christopher Columbus that was a gift from the Italian government in the 1800s following weeks of riots that took place at the plaza where it stands. Philadelphia, along with New York City, are among the cities with the largest Italian-American populations in the U.S. (RELATED: Christopher Columbus Statue In Philadelphia To Be Removed Because It Attracts Violence)

The New York Police Department was guarding the statue of Columbus in Columbus Circle from any potential vandalism on Monday.

“This Columbus Day, the celebration of Mother Cabrini is even more appropriate than when we announced it last year because of the difficulties that we are facing,” Cuomo said.

 “In this complex world, may this statue serve to remind us of the principles that made us great as a country and as a people and the principles that keep us special on this globe – the values of Mother Cabrini: compassion, acceptance, community, freedom, faith, hope and love.”