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State to fund Mother Cabrini statue in NYC, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says

A statue honoring Mother Cabrini, the first naturalized U.S. citizen to be canonized, will get funding from New York State, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday at the Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan. (Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes)

A statue honoring Mother Cabrini — the first naturalized American citizen to be canonized a Catholic saint — will get funding from New York State, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday at the Columbus Day parade.

Cuomo’s announcement came after a panel headed by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, initially declined to include Cabrini among forthcoming statues to add more women to the city’s monument stock — most of which honor men — despite Cabrini topping a public poll seeking suggestions. 

“To keep the diversity positive, everyone has to feel included," Cuomo said. "…. whether it’s the Jewish community or the Irish community or the African American community or the Latino community … and the Italian American community feel strongly about this.”

Amid an uproar over the exclusion, de Blasio said last week the city would consider adding a Cabrini statue.

A designer for the statue, and where it would be built and placed are still to be determined, Cuomo said. 

“Mother Cabrini was a great New Yorker and a great Italian American immigrant who came to the city and helped scores of immigrants and opened dozens of institutions," the governor said. "She is certainly deserving of a statue." 

The Cabrini statue issue drew attention on the parade sidelines.

“DON’T BE A MEANY! CELEBRATE MOTHER CABRINI!” said a homemade sign several feet high held by Rosemary Villanella, 71, of Garden City. 

“I’m at the Columbus Day parade to make sure that Mother Frances Cabrini — Saint Frances Cabrini, the first American saint — is not forgotten in the statues of women who built this city,” said the retired teacher, whose grandmother was raised by Cabrini in an orphanage. 

Cabrini, who was of Italian ancestry, founded a Catholic religious institute that supported Italian immigrants in the United States near the turn of the century. She was made a saint in 1946. 

Statues to be built and their locations:

  • Rep. Shirley Chisholm — Brooklyn
  • Elizabeth Jennings Graham — Manhattan
  • Billie Holiday — Queens
  • Marsha P. Johnson — Manhattan
  • Sylvia Rivera — Manhattan
  • Dr. Helen Rodriguez Trías — Bronx
  • Katherine Walker — Staten Island

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