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Young woman, dressed in black with a cross,carrying luggage, late 19th century New York
Artwork for the new movie: Carbrini

A new movie opens this weekend, based on a woman with strong ties to Golden: Cabrini. This is the story of a nun who founded a summer camp for orphans on Lookout Mountain. She discovered a water source on the mountain top, which the Vatican judged to be a miracle. Mother Cabrini was canonized in 1946, and the site of her orphanage is now the Mother Cabrini shrine.

Knowing that my neighbor, Carol McEncroe, had long-time ties to the shrine, I asked her to contribute a history of Mother Cabrini and the shrine, and she kindly agreed!

Mother Cabrini Shrine
Carol McEncroe

Excitement is building for the March 8th release of Angel Studios’ movie, Cabrini, directed by Alejandro Monteverde. Cabrini is of special historic and spiritual interest to the people of Golden because it follows the early missionary work in America of Francesca Xavier Cabrini (Mother Cabrini) who has an important connection to the Denver/Golden area. In fact, a special Colorado holiday was recently dedicated in honor of Mother Cabrini by Governor Jared Polis.

In 1889, Mother Cabrini and her Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus came to America to help the Italian immigrants in New York City. The Italian immigrants were living in dire poverty and facing intense discrimination at that time. Mother Cabrini worked tirelessly to establish an orphanage, school, and hospital for them in New York. She later expanded her work to the Italian immigrants in other cities across the nation and in 1902 at the request of Bishop Nicholas Matz, Bishop of Denver, came to Denver (where the conditions for Italian immigrants were deplorable). She established schools and an orphanage in Denver.

Black & white postcard image of a large stone house caption IDs it as a home for children founded by Saint Cabrinii
The stone house commissioned by Mother Cabrini served as the dormitory for girls. – Golden History Museum collection

Mother Cabrini traveled by horse and buggy to Golden in 1909, purchasing the first of four parcels of land to establish a summer retreat in the foothills for the orphans (now the Mother Cabrini Shrine). The land was an abandoned ranch and was purchased at a low price because water could not be found. Mother Cabrini miraculously discovered a spring on the property in 1912. In the 67 years of her life, Mother Cabrini established 67 institutions (hospitals, schools, and orphanages) across America and abroad, and she became the first American saint.

7 panels showing photos of the shrine, chapel, & landscape with photo of Mother Cabrini at center
Mother Cabrini Shrine – Historic photo of Mother Cabrina from the Denver Public Library Western History Collection – Modern photos by John McEncroe

The Mother Cabrini Shrine is a jewel in the foothills just 15 minutes southwest of Golden. Visitors come from around the world to walk in the footsteps of Mother Cabrini and her Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. No longer a summer retreat for orphans, the Mother Cabrini Shrine retains the historic buildings and grounds development that trace the mission of Mother Cabrini and her Missionary Sisters from the early 1900s to the present day. Today, the Mother Cabrini Shrine serves as a center for daily Mass, religious retreats and conferences, as well as an historic monument to Mother Cabrini and her Missionary Sisters. Visitors can walk the grounds and see the original Stone House that served as the orphans’ summer home, the stone barns and pump house (now home to the Cabrini Museum), the Grotto where Mother Cabrini’s spring still runs, the Grotto Chapels, and the 373 steps to the statue of Jesus. The convent building and chapel (circa 1970) underwent a major renovation in 2022-2023 to expand and improve the chapel, gift shop, and conference facilities, and to make the building handicapped accessible. The new chapel with its exquisite new Italian mosaic and its historic stained-glass windows depicting the life of Mother Cabrini is breathtakingly beautiful.

The new chapel and the entire grounds of the Mother Cabrini Shrine provide a precious place of peace and contemplation. It is a place of history and new beginnings. I recommend that you embrace your Colorado/Golden connection to Mother Cabrini and the Mother Cabrini Shrine by going to see the new movie, Cabrini, and visiting the Mother Cabrini Shrine.

The Shrine is open to the public 7 days a week and there is no admission fee.

Cabrini is showing at Regal UA Colorado Mills , Century Cinemark BelMar 16, and Harkins Theaters Arvada 14.

Thanks to the Golden History Museum for providing the online cache of historic Transcripts, and to the Golden Transcript for documenting our history since 1866!