Feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

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Sometimes Americans forget how young our country is. African and Europe have saints from the earliest centuries of the Church. The first American citizen to be canonized, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, lived from 1850 to 1917, was only canonized in 1946.

By the time Mother Cabrini died she and her sisters had established 67 schools, orphanages and hospitals.

Cabrini was born in Italy, where she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Her work teaching poor children was so successful that Archbishop Michael A. Corrigan sent her a formal invitation to come to New York and teach Italian immigrant children in the city.

Cabrini was 49 years old when she arrived in the United States. She docked in New York harbor only to find that the archbishop had changed his mind. He told Mother Cabrini, as she has come to be called, to return to Italy. But Mother Cabrini believed in the call even if the archbishop did not. She stuck by her mission, as did the sisters who accompanied her on the journey. By the time Mother Cabrini died she and her sisters had established 67 schools, orphanages and hospitals. They were located in the United States, but also in Central and South America and Europe. Mother Cabrini cared less about borders than about need. She once said, “The whole world is not wide enough for me.” She was wiling to go wherever the children of God had need.

Because Mother Cabrini stuck it out, even when her patronage and sponsorship were withdrawn, consider making a sticky dessert today in her honor. This recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding is from Nigella Lawson as featured on the Food Network website. It’s fun to make, because you get to pour your cake batter into boiling water, which seems like a big mistake. It isn’t; the boiling water plus the batter make a cake with a rich, gooey sauce.


Ingredients for the cake:

Butter, for baking dish plus 1/4 cup, melted

Scant 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour

1/2 cup whole milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped, rolled dates


For the sauce:

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

Approximately 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in little blobs

2 1/4 cups boiling water


Directions for the cake:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and butter a 1 1/2-quart capacity baking dish.

Combine the sugar with the flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk into a measuring cup, beat in the egg, vanilla and melted butter and then pour this mixture over the sugar and flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine. Fold in the dates then scrape into the prepared baking dish. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look very full; it will by the time it cooks.


Directions for the sauce:

Sprinkle the sugar over the cake mixture and dot with butter. Pour over the boiling water (yes really!) and transfer to the oven. Set the time for 45 minutes, though you might find the dessert needs 5 or 10 minutes more. The top of the dessert should be springy and spongy when it’s cooked; underneath, the butter, dark brown sugar and boiling water will have turned into a rich, sticky sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream, crème fraiche or heavy or light cream, as you wish.