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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Sacred Heart statue at Cabrini Shrine
Sacred Heart statue of Christ at Cabrini Shrine. Photo: Mother Ignatius Micelli

Cabrini Shrine, Golden, Colorado

Arriving in Denver in 1902, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, established in 1904 the Queen of Heaven Orphanage, welcoming needy girls from all ethnic groups. Since the orphanage was located in a residential neighborhood, in deference to the residents Mother Cabrini sought to curb the natural exuberance of the girls, but actively sought a property in a rural setting to allow the girls to experience outdoor life and run and play noisily without any constraints.

In 1910, she negotiated the purchase of a rural property on the east slope of Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado. A farming operation with poultry, dairy cows and other livestock was established and maintained by three of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and during the summer months girls from the inner-city orphanage came to enjoy several weeks of freedom at the farm. During Mother Cabrini's last visit in 1912, she and a builder drew up plans that would serve as a dormitory for the girls. The "Stone House" was completed in 1914 with stones from a nearby quarry, loaded on a donkey cart by the girls and brought to the building site.

A spacious new Queen of Heaven Orphanage was dedicated in 1921 in Denver at 48th Avenue and Federal Boulevard. Until 1967, it was home to 160 - 317 girls each year before foster care replaced the orphanage. Upon the closing of the orphanage in 1967, the summer camp in Golden became a year-round retreat facility.

Mother Cabrini died at 67 years of age in 1917 in Chicago, Illinois. She had established 67 institutions throughout the United States and in South and Central America. Her work continues through the ministry of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Frances Xavier Cabrini was canonized on July 7, 1946, the first United States citizen to be so honored. On her last visit to the site in 1912, Mother Cabrini had gathered white stones and formed a sacred heart on the highest promontory on Lookout Mountain, overlooking the city of Denver. In April 1948, a St. Frances Cabrini Shrine Committee was incorporated, and a 22-foot statue of Christ was mounted on an 11-foot base at the site, now known as the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, or the Cabrini Shrine. Next to the original Stone House, a convent was completed on the site in 1970 for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. It contains a chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart, has an exhibit of artifacts and clothing used by Mother Cabrini, and accommodations for visitors.

In the Jubilee Year 2000, alumna of the Queen of Heaven orphanage will hold a reunion in Denver to acknowledge those sisters who gave of themselves for the girls of Queen of Heaven, and to bring national and worldwide attention to the life's work of Saint Frances Cabrini, especially to her legacy at the Cabrini Shrine in Golden.

Project documentation includes eight pages of text, 15 slides, and two videotapes: "Life of St. Frances Xavier Cabini" and "Mother Cabrini Shrine."

Originally submitted by: Thomas G. Tancredo, Representative (6th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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