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Saints of the Trinity Dome: Part V

The Trinity Dome features a litany of saints who are associated with the United States and the National Shrine. From Mother Teresa to St. John Paul II, these heroes of the faith inspire us to pursue the path of holiness. In this fifth installment of our Saints of the Trinity Dome series, we invite you to learn more about St. Rose of Lima, St. Josephine Bakhita, and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.

This post is Part V in a series – read Part IPart II, and Part III, and Part IV.

1. St. Rose of Lima

Rose of Lima Trinity DomeDid you know that Rose of Lima was the first named saint in the Western hemisphere? Born as Isabel de flores to Spanish parents in 1586, she was extraordinarily beautiful even as an infant, earning her the name “Rose.” As she grew older, she only became more and more lovely, which was a great source of pride for her parents. After losing much of their fortune in mining speculation, her parents were eager to have their beautiful daughter snatched up by a rich suitor. But while countless young men sought Rose’s affections, she eschewed them for spiritual pursuits.

Despite her parents’ wishes, Rose took a vow of virginity and joined the third order of St. Dominic. At one point, she decided to move into a garden hut, where she dedicated herself to prayer and provided for her family through needlework and gardening. She also used a room in her family’s house to care for the ill and elderly, and soon attracted many visitors for the peace and respite she offered. The faithful flocked to Rose for advice, prayer, and healing, and some even credited her with saving Lima from earthquakes in the surrounding region. In her final years, Rose grew ill and lived under the care of a local official for three years until her death in 1617 at age 31. Today, St. Rose of Lima is known as the patroness of South America.

2. St. Josephine Bakhita

Josephine Bakhita St. Josephine Bakhita’s life was marked by tragedy and hardship from a young age. While working in the fields with her mother at age nine, she was captured and sold into slavery. The trauma of the incident affected her memory of her name, and her captors called her “Bakhita,” meaning “fortunate.” She attempted to escape unsuccessfully on numerous occasions and was sold five times throughout El Obeid and Khartoum. In 1882 in Khartoum, an Italian consul named Callisto Legnani purchased Bakhita, and her life changed drastically. No longer did she suffer beatings at the hands of her master, but rather, she was treated gently and kindly. She accompanied him when he traveled to Italy, where she was placed in the household of the Michieli family to serve as a nanny.

Sometime later, when the Michielis were called away, Bakhita took residence with the Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice. It was here that she realized that God’s love had been at work in the Italian families who had been so kind to her. In 1890, the sisters baptized her and gave her the name by which we now know her – Josephine. Although the Michielis returned in due course, Josephine requested to stay with the Sisters, and Mrs. Michieli acquiesced. For the next 50 years, Josephine contributed to the order’s daily operations by cooking, sewing, and keeping the door. Her gentle spirit, sweet smile, and kind words of encouragement were an inspiration to all she met. Over a 20-year period, she wrote her autobiography. Following its publication in 1930, she traveled the world, sharing her story and the hope Christ had given her. Rather than hold the sins of her former masters against them, she chose forgiveness, saying: “If it had not been for them, I would not have become a Christian or a religious person.” She is known as the patroness of Sudan and victims of human trafficking.

Frances Xavier Cabrini3. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Often referred to as the mother of women’s missions, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini felt called to be a missionary from an early age. As a young girl in Italy, she would dress her dolls as nuns and send them down the river in boats as “missionaries.” She never lost her heart for missions, and at 27 approached a local bishop about the matter. At his suggestion, she founded the first institute for female missionaries: the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and within a decade, it was recognized by Rome. When she was 30, she immigrated to New York City with six of her sisters, intending to found orphanages in Little Italy. The plan was initially met with resistance from New York’s archbishop – primarily due to lack of funds. Regardless, Frances managed to secure $5,000 for the endeavor and was soon caring for over 400 orphans from the city streets. Later, she acquired 150 acres of land and established an orphanage in the countryside.

The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart went on to found a variety of Catholic institutions throughout Europe and the Americas. In her lifetime, Frances traversed the ocean 39 times, founding over 60 missions across Europe and the Americas. In 1946, she became the first American citizen to be canonized. She is the patroness of immigrants.


Address to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” Pope Francis

Butler’s Lives of Saints, ed. Bernard Bangley

The Way of Saints, Tom Cowan

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