Cabrini (2024) | Transcript

After witnessing disease and poverty in the slums of New York, Italian immigrant Francesca Cabrini embarks on a daring journey to persuade the hostile mayor to provide housing and healthcare for hundreds of orphaned children.

Cabrini (2024)
Drama, History
Director: Alejandro Gómez Monteverde
Stars: Cristiana Dell’Anna, David Morse, Giancarlo Giannini, John Lithgow, Romana Maggiora Vergano

Plot: Italian immigrant Francesca Cabrini arrives in 1889 New York City and is greeted by disease, crime, and impoverished children. Cabrini sets off on a daring mission to convince the hostile mayor to secure housing and healthcare for society’s most vulnerable. With broken English and poor health, Cabrini uses her entrepreneurial mind to build an empire of hope unlike anything the world had ever seen.

* * *

[♪ musical swirl ♪]

[seagulls chirping]

[background conversations]

[horses trotting]

[heavy breaths]

[wheels rolling]

Woman: Oh dear,

[city sounds build]

Man: Off the sidewalk.

[soft female opera singing]


Please help me! My mother is dying!

I beg your pardon?

Can you see that I’m speaking with someone?

My mother, she’s dying!

I don’t understand you.

She’s outside.

My mother is dying, please help!

Frank: Go to a hospital that takes Italians!

Come on,

She’s dying! Help her! She’s my mother, help her!

Filthy little Dago, let’s go! Out!

[soft opera continues]

Policeman1: Where’s your father? Do you have any other family?

Policeman2: Johnny, don’t waste your time

those monkeys don’t understand a thing.

Two days and she’s in the Potter’s Field.

[music intensifies] [female opera singing]

Where are you taking her?

[low music continues]

[multiple footsteps running]


[coughing and gasping]

[knocking on door]

I’m fine.

It was just one of those e nights..

Mother Cabrini, are you sure?

I’m fine, Concetta.

Thank you.

[shuddered breaths]

[single violin plays]

[bike noise and farm noises]


A telegram! From the Vatican!

I should leave for Rome at once.

It is an invitation

not an approval.

[locomotive engine]

[adventurous music]

[dramatic opera music]

[background conversations]

Mother Cabrini.

Your Eminence, thank you for this chance to state my case…

In fact, you’ve already s stated your case eleven times.

Your Eminence, an explosion of poverty is ripping through Asia.

Hitting children hardest, in China…

Mother, this office has responded

to your proposal. Many times, to no avail.

So we felt it necessary to deliver.

That same response in person.

Your Eminence, if I could…

You’re building an orphanage in Lombardy, are you not?


Then continue your good work there.

Stay where you belong, Mother.

[his words repeated as though heard through water]

[water sounds continue]

[low violin plays]

[words continue repeating]


Your daughter is very weak

and will be so as long as she lives.

She almost drowned in that river.

Now her bed will be her life.

That is where she belongs.

Your Eminence.

Mother Cabrini.

This decision..

Is it yours or the Holy Father’s?

Assure you there is no difference.

If there is no difference..

I’d like to hear it from His Holiness Himself.

Or I’ll be forced to keep writing letters.

Your Holiness.

For one little woman, you make a lot of noise.

Your Holiness,

want to found a network of orphanages. First, throughout China…

You have stated your case exhaustively.

But I’m told you want to hear. The final verdict directly from me.

Lombardy is the scope of your work.

Now, His Eminence

tells me that this is your first trip to Rome

your first trip out of Lombardy for that matter.


I do encourage you to take a few days,

visit the museum, see the sights…

Is it because. I am a woman?

Is that why I must t limit my scope?

There has never been an independent order of missionary women..

Wasn’t it Mary Magdalene who brought news of the Resurrection to the Apostles?

If God confided such a mission to a woman.

Why should He not confide in us?

May I remind you that His Holiness has the power

to censure or even disband…

Just a moment, Silvio.

Why China, Cabrini?

Because we’ve forgotten the East.

I shall start in Peking and move west..

And create a body of charities that t will reach into Afghanistan, then into Persia…


You intend to build

a worldwide order!

Your Holiness

the world is too small for what I intend to do.

See what I mean?

And you have sufficient funds to

conquer the world?

Had I waited for sufficient funds.

Would have built nothing.

Not my schools. Nor my orphanage in Co dog no.

Begin the mission. And the means will come.

Your Holiness,

may I remind you of your next. Appointment?


I’m having tea with Cabrini.

This morning, in an alley, I found the frozen body of a boy

with newspapers as his only blanket.

We came to America believing the streets. Were paved with gold.

Only to find they’re paved with abandoned children.

This box

is a tomb of dreams. OC.

It’s filled with letters from immigrants

Italians from New York.

Forgive me, Your Holiness.

Why are you telling me this?

They tell me that..

You were rejected by. Three different orders.

Each time for “weakness of constitution.”

We can serve our weakness,

or we can serve our purpose.

Not both.

If I made you the first woman

ever to lead an overseas mission

the whole church would Io ok to you as proof

of what t women can,

or can not accomplish.

You understand this?

I will approve e your mission

on one condition:

Begin in the West.

Not the East.

If the world is too small for what you intend to do

why does it matter where you begin?

[low violin playing]

As women

[symphony of strings plays]

without men, we will be expected to fail.

More than ever, we must trust in ourselves,

and in the purpose of our mission.

As we set sail

for America.

New York.

And from now on, my sisters, we speak English.

We will be greeted at the port by a priest named Morelli.

He can no longer manage his orphanage in Five Points,

so we will gain possession of it,

and give the abandoned children the love they so badly need.

If we are to build an empire of hope,

my sisters,

it seems we must first conquer New York.

[ship foghorn]

And so we begin.

[fog horn]

[inspirational music]

[wind and flowing water]

[low violin sound]

[many footsteps and harbor sounds]

We’ve waited long enough.

Excuse me, how much to Five Points?

Don’t go to Five Points at this hour.

Please, sir. We don’t know…

I’m sorry.

[background conversations]

Open your eyes.

See everything.

This is who we’ve come to serve.

[dramatic music]

[slammed door and kids scream] Get out of there!


This is not a place for you.

Did you see three little girls? They came right past here.

Look in the daylight you get killed at this hour.

We should listen to her, Mother.

Do you know where we can find a room nearby?

For you? In Five Points?

We need a place to sleep

just for tonight.

I can’t help.

I beg you, we don’t know where to go.

[door squeaks open]

[saloon music and commotion in the background]

Barricade the door.

And unless you want to get beaten don’t let Geno see you.

[moving dresser]

[banging on the door]

Open the door!

Nobody stays here for free!

Open up!

You think I care that you’re nuns?

If I catch you here again…

I’ll make you regret it.

[rooster crows]

Oh my…

[background conversations]

Father Morelli?

Francesca Cabrini.

You’re here.

I knew this would come back to bite me.

So, you did not receive. The letter from the Archbishop?

The one I sen t t you?

No we didn’t.


your mission was denied. By the Archdiocese.


What do you mean, denied?

You really should see the Archbishop.

Would you be kind enough to take us to our orphanage e first?

[music plays]

[street market conversations]

We couldn’t raise enough to keep it open.

Not with the cost of the hospital.

Enzo, Paolo! You again?!

Get the hell out!! Go!

No, don’t go…

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

Even the older ones are still children.

The Archbishop’s Office is on 53rd.

It will be a long walk before you find a streetcar.

Welcome to America.

[door closes]

[street market and music]

[adventurous music]

[horse and carriage noises]

Man 1: Filthy dagos,

they just keep coming.

We ought’a ship ’em all back.

Who are you looking at, Guinea Pig?

[man snorts]

Man 2: Come on. Let’s go.

Bishop: If you’re saying that there is an Italian problem,

then yes, there is.

Quite a large one!

Now, I… It’s not safe

not for you, not for your wards.

Now, I’m terribly sorry

that you sailed the Atlantic to hear it,

but that is my letter in brief.

Cabrini: Then I take it as a great sign,

I did not receive it.

Because I’m staying.


Well, uh…

Bishop: I made my decision,

so I’m afraid there’s no choice

but for you to get on a boat and go back home.

Now, my office

would be pleased to assist you

in arranging a steamer, if that might.

Cabrini: I was sent here by the Pope.

I would not want to disappoint him.


Of course, I am delighted that the Pope wishes you well.

But please know that I am empowered by Him

to make decisions for the Archdiocese

entirely as I see fit.

So if you are to remain in New York

it is only because I allow it.

Is this clear?

[door opening]

[rats squeaking]


[low violin plays]

This should be just fine.

[music grows to full opera]


[music continues]


[music continues]

Concetta: Look, Mother.

This one.

But this is nice too and it does cost less.

We’ll save on other things.

Our children deserve the best.

They will notice.

[praying in Italian]

[music continues]

[animal sounds]


[labored breathing]


[background conversations]

Stay where you belong, Mother.

[coughing and labored breathing]


My name is Doctor Murphy.

A couple good samaritans brought you here.


[water sounds]

Stay where you belong.

[street market conversations]




they are…

My lungs are very compromised.

I know.

How do you say it?

Post-tubercular symptoms…

We can speak English, Dr. Murphy.

I need the practice.

You’re fortunate I was here tonight.

I only volunteer on occasion.

Dr. Murphy: I take it you know your prognosis.

I’m afraid it’s not a cheerful one.

The doctors tell me five years.

In my experience… two,

perhaps three.

Five would be a miracle.

In that case,

I should get to work.

That’s if you rest, Mother.

If you have another episode like this

it could very well spell the end.

[street market conversations]

[low violin plays]

Concetta: She’s here.

Where were you, I Mother?

Are you okay, Mother?

Don’t worry about me.

There will be a time…

There will be a time when I am away.

That’s why you have to learn

to face your fears,

to not just carry on

but to lead.

And to demonstrate

you can do all things,

all things in Him who strengthens us.

Whether I am here or not.

This is a beautiful place to live in.

Now we need to fill it with children.

[Italian song starts to play]

You have a lot of nerve coming back here.

I’d like to speak to Vittoria.

She’s busy.

Now leave.

Get the hell out!

Go! Go!

[street market conversations]

Don’t come back.

Your pretty little habits won’t protect you from him.

Did he do this?

I need your help to find those girls, Vittoria.

Get your lamps.

[footsteps in water]

[single violin plays]

[soft music starts]

This was the door to my home.

[street market conversations]

Put that a way!

Mafia boy.

They’re just nuns.

We’ll take the bread.

Enzo, Paolo…

There you are!

I’ve been worried about t you.

Just give us the bread.

Take the bread, what do you eat tonight?

Come as our guests and you’ll have…

What is Sister Serafina making?

Rigatoni and peach cro stat a.

Plus the bread.


We’ll take the bread.

But it’s cro stat a..

The choice is yours.

I’ve never had a crostata before.

Sorry, but I’m going.

[background conversations of children]

This cro stat a is great!

We’ll stay for a little while,

and what about your parents, Paolo?

Papa killed himself.

Mama died of typhus

in a wheelbarrow.

[soft music plays]

Go take a look.

Look how handsome you are.

Your mother would be so proud.

[background conversations]

You lying whore!

You’re gonna work a double shift to make it up!

Let her go!

Coward! He’s just a kid.

Let her go!


If you harm her, Mr. Geno…

God’s wrath shall descend upon you,

and it shall be better for you had you never been.


I’m going to repeat it to you one last time.

Move to the side.

I said let her go!


Give me the gun.

Paolo, this is not the way we do things!

Put it down!

Geno is leaving.


Listen to her, boy..

Lower the gun.



[children screaming]

The pimp will be fine.

So an orphan..

Shot a pimp,

while you blocked the door

to keep a prostitute inside.

Be careful, Mother, or this place will eat you alive.

Sit down, Paolo.

That was the gun my papa used on himself.

[soft music plays]

I removed the bullets but the gun is yours…

The children and I. Would like to know.

The choice is yours.

[flames crackle]

[man outside laughing]

[upbeat music]

And you’ve been in America for how long?

A few weeks.

Jenkins: Then, I suppose you can be excused

for not knowing that the City of New York

is not in the business of giving assistance

to people of

the Latin persuasion.

Of course, I wish you the best in all your.

Is this

the Mayor’s decision

or is it yours?

Pardon me?

I’d prefer to discuss this with the Mayor,

if you don’t mind.

Bishop: The Archdiocese simply cannot allow you

to solicit funds from City Hall.

Because I’m Italian?

The Archdiocese has worked many years indeed,

to earn the support of the highest echelons of this City.

I will not put that at risk.

I need your help.

I need an orphanage with more room,

where my children can be children,

and I don’t have to worry

that a pimp will smack them in the face.

All right.

This is all I can do.

Once-a-year contribution.

That should help a little.

But allow me to make myself clear,


are not to solicit money from any American institution,

or any American individual for that matter.

I will not have you begging your way

through the Upper West Side.

You are to solicit from Italians only.

You ask me to

fund the needs of impoverished Italians

entirely from impoverished Italians.

I am giving you an order, Mother.

Ah, Vittoria!

Where have you been?

[heavy breaths]


You’ll pay for what you did to me!

Enough! Geno!

[dramatic music]

I’m a prostitute.

Been one since was a girl.

And now I have blood on my hands.

There’s not enough water in the world to make me clean.

When I look at you, do you know what I see?

I see a strong woman.

I see courage.

I see it glowing all around I you.

It takes a lot of courage

to become who we’re. Meant to be.

We have something in common.


We are both survivors.

We don’t get to choose how we come into this world.

But God gave us the freedom to choose

how we live in it.

[children playing]


There’s a dead girl!

[low violin plays]


[street market noises]

Rats have it better than the children of Five Points.


And no one cares.

[Newsie shouting]

But do people know

that rats have it better than the children of Five Points?

Those people would never visit a sewer.

Then we. Should bring. The sewer to them.

[typewriter strokes]

[background conversations]

The problem is, I have to write articles that people read.

Do people know

that in America, the greatest nation on earth,

rats have it better than the children of Five Points?

I sincerely doubt that.

Then you clearly

haven’t been to Five Points.

Vittoria, if you would be so kind

as to get Mr. Calloway’s hat.

[somber music plays]

“Even Rats Have It Better.” By Theodore Calloway.

Over the last several months,

a group of dark-eyed nuns,

led by a frail woman named Cabrini,

have been taking the risk of entering

certain forbidding places

where not even police dare to enter.

To each child,

Cabrini makes a promise,

“Soon we shall have a bed for you.”

These kids are coming home with us tonight.

They learn in English,

so they can be American citizens,

great ones,

proud of the land where they now live.

Will always be protected by the government.

And they sing in Italian,

so they can be proud of the land they came from.

She imbues these castaways

with a dignity their parents never knew.

For she believes the wounds these children bear

can only be healed through love,

and through an education of the heart.

Take the case

of the little waif

whose body was found upon the street

by one of Cabrini’s orphans.

No one stepped forward as the girl’s family,

so Cabrini and her children claimed her as their own.

Dear Reader,

New York is built upon the dead.

Her mighty rails,

her tunnels

her shining streets,

all are set upon a bedrock of immigrant bone.

Is this bone not ours as well?

Did we not all arrive as immigrants?

Do we not owe these children… our children

a life better than a rat’s?

[somber music continues]

Dear Reader,

what kind of New York do we want?

The one imagined by City Hall,

where the Italian is voiceless,

quarantined in slums?

Or do we want the New York that Cabrini imagines

where the Italian is our equal in dignity,

and their children have a chance to live?

Cabrini: Here.

Concetta: Oh, but didn’t the Archbishop say…

The Archbishop ordered us not to beg here.

Cabrini: So we won’t.

We will live here instead.

[lighthearted music]

[Italian singing]

Give this to Dr.Murphy.

He comes in Thursday and Saturday..

Thank you, Mother, thank you!

Send Giacomo my blessing.

Mother, it’s my nephew..

The cops put him in jail but he did nothing. Wrong.

[city street noise]

[music continues]

So she didn’t need your permission.

That’s not exactly how she operates.

So you let a woman push you around,

an Italian woman.

Is that how you run your Church?

I’ve got the whole Upper West Side

climbing down my throat.

They look out their window,

and what do they see?

A wave of brown-skinned filth

parading up their street,

with a nun

as their pied-piper.

But don’t be mistaken,

this is not about a neighborhood.

This is about New York.

This is about the kind of New York we want.

About our New York.

A beacon of prosperity.

Somewhere, somehow,

a line must be drawn.

Well I am a shepherd, Mr. Mayor.

And, perhaps inconveniently,

the Italians are among my flock.

And the people of Crown Heights

and Corcoran’s Roost,

are they not among your flock?

Wouldn’t it be a shame

if a few permits got between all those good people

and the new churches they deserve?

And all those Irish kids

on their city grants,

my grants

are we going to let some

puffed-up ‘dago’ nun

get in the way of all that?

A shepherd like you,

a good shepherd

he knows where his sheep belong.

Bottoms-up, Your Grace.

Oh come now

you’re a good Irish man, bottoms-up.

[somber music]

Inspector Hennessy, Housing Department.

[horn music plays]

Concetta: Maybe I can show you the classrooms, Inspector…

[background conversations]



you’ve broken 14 city codes

and stuffed 71 children

into a space appropriate for 20.

Italians like to stay close.

It’s unsanitary.

Then surely you’d like to inspect

the cellars where they used to live.

What I’d like you to do is to keep your crime

and your filth out of this neighborhood.

What crime?

You have seven days to make all modifications

and pay all fines or you will be evicted at once.

At which time,

you can move back to Five Points,

pack’em in there like herrings in a barrel.

You’ve acted in direct disobedience, Mother.

I was ordered not to solicit Americans,

and I did not.

America came to me.

Oh, that’s clever.

But you’ve strayed into waters

that are far too deep for you.

Maybe you could run to the papers again,

maybe you could raise enough to pay the fines,

but the Mayor will find a way to get you out

if he has to have his rowdies plant

a dead body in your yard, he will get you out

and your children will be right back in the rubbish dump.

Now, I don’t want to see that any more than you do.

So, I have a proposition.

The Jesuits own a property just north of here,

one they’d be willing to part with at a discount,

but only for the right cause.

There’s fifteen acres,

views of the Hudson, and room to play.

You know I couldn’t possibly afford this.

How much can you afford?

Have you come to make fun of me…?

Let me ask this way

how much do you have right now in your bank account?

Nine hundred sixteen dollars and twelve cents.

Mostly pennies.

Let’s call it a thousand,

I’ll chip in the difference.

And the Jesuits, they will accept, but

the property does have a certain…

Well, it’s a challenge.

So how about we just discuss

that while we’re there, shall we?


[low violin music]

[horse and buggy moving]

[regal music]


I shall be buried here.

May I meet you at the carriage?

Bishop: Yes, those are the wells.

As I said, there is a challenge.

Cabrini: There’s no water? None at all?

The Jesuits spent a lot of money looking.

But they had 300 men.

Far too many to support without a well.

If you keep your numbers low,

maybe you can find a way.

The Jesuits failed.

That does not mean we will.

[children playing]

[background conversations]

Cabrini: The Jesuits dug here,

and on the south side.

So we will start from the north.

They dug every fifteen meters,

we will have to dig every ten meters.

Umilia, establish two shifts,

and work your way south.

The older children can also help

when they’re free from class.

In the meantime, we will make the river work for us.

[inspirational music]

[water splashing]


It’s two in the morning.

Want to join me?

You should d rest more.

You’re dying. Why aren’t you a afraid?

Of course I’m afraid.

That’s why I’m out here digging.

When I work it seems like…

I’m stealing one more day of life.

If I rest

that’s when dying becomes

very, very real.

[soft music]

We just moved in

to this huge, huge place..

And we already barely fit.

She just keeps bringing in more kids.

She’s crazy.

We should help her somehow.

Can you find us some work?

[music continues]


They’ll take us both.

Twenty cents for the night shift!

Perfect! What are we doing?

Faster, boys! Faster!

Keep that boiler hot!

Or I toss you out!

[Explosion and alarm]

Go! Go!


[alarm ringing and shouting]

[high pitch ringing]

[pipes humming]


[soft opera singing]

[street market commotion]

Have you seen Enzo?

[music envelopes the conversations]

Keep that tight.


I need someone to go to Mt. Carmel.

Now! Tell them I need morphine and chloroform!

And doctors!


Concetta: I can pay, please.

Nurse: We are not a supply store.

But we need help!

Sorry. We can’t help.

We need doctors! Please!

People are dying!

[dramatic opera music]

I found Enzo!


[Italian song plays]

I You wrote to me

that my girl is calling for me

the one who left her behind

is still far away.

No, I won’t be coming back to her.

I’ll stay gone

and keep on working for us all..

I have lost my home. My homeland and my honor…

I’m butchers meat.

I am an immigrant.

Dr Murphy: The explosion pushed Morelli over the edge.

As far as I can tell,

the hospital’s bankrupt.

He plans to shut it down, go back to Italy.

But they need that hospital.

Even if it’s just a place to die.

That’s more or less why I’ve come.

I know it’s mad to even think about it,

but if anyone could make a go of it

it’d be you.

We live bucket-by-bucket, Dr. Murphy.

I couldn’t possibly take on a hospital.

Here’s the cold hard truth.

If that had been Mt. Carmel Hospital,

Enzo would be alive.

As would a good many of those men.

[horn music plays]

My lunch begins in an hour and fifty-three minutes,

not nearly enough time for me to list all the reasons

this bank will never make a loan to anyone who looks,

smells, walks, or talks like you.

If you’re asking my permission,

I won’t stop you.

If you’re asking my advice,

I think that you are barking mad.

Why even consider it?

Because people died that should not have.

How can we sleep knowing that?

I need funding.

From Americans!


We don’t make loans.

Then what about the Italian Senate?

I can go to Rome. I can sail tomorrow.

I wouldn’t sail to Rome to hear it.

[DiSalvo singing Italian opera]

[Audience applause]

May I help you?

I am here to see signore DiSalvo.

I’m sorry but Mr. DiSalvo

does not accept any uninvited guests.

I’m sure he won’t mind!

To Americans, the great Verdi, Puccini,

Michelangelo, DaVinci,

they are one thing.

The men digging tunnels,

dying without a doctor,

these men are quite another.

Poor men,

from Sicily,

like you were.

We have to show America that we are all people of dignity.

As indeed we are.

But I’m afraid

I will not participate in your adventure.

Now, if you’ll excuse me

it’s time for me to go to the Opera.

This is about helping your people…

I have never been late to the theater

and today is not going to be the first.

But you must understand, this is not an issue you can just.

No, no, no.

You must understand.

I will never participate in any scheme

that involves… the church.

Show her out.

[street noise]

[inspirational music]

Evening George.

Cabrini: Dr. Murphy. – Yeah.

May I have a moment?

No one is going to invest in a failed hospital,

in a rat-infested building that was once a brothel.

But we could found a hospital like this one, a great one.

How would we begin?

We would need a real building

with a board of directors comprised of men of influence,

who are also sons of immigrants.

Irish, Polish, Jewish.

Can you introduce me to such men?

My father came here from Ireland to work the rails.

Cheap labor,


just like the Italians in that pump station.

I figure anyone who came here on a boat, anyone at all,

I owe them a hand.

As does Mother Cabrini.

When I stepped off the boat,

gentlemen, not so long ago,

I had to learn words that were not in my dictionary.

Dago. Guinea pig.

Words said with such disdain, such hate,

that they cut just like a knife.

When your fathers first came here

did they not also have to learn words

such as Kike, Mick, Polack?

And even now,

in this fine neighborhood

don’t you still hear

those names whispered behind your back?

I ask you to take those names, and turn them into a hospital.

I propose purchasing this property

and renovating it for 400 beds,

with services fine enough to attract the wealthy.

The fees we earn here,

we use to fund the needs

of the immigrant with nothing.

Who will also be treated by the finest doctors,

so that America will learn

we are more than Kike and Polack and butcher’s meat.

But you don’t even have the funds

to sustain the hospital in Five Points.

Begin the mission and the means will come.

This mission begins tonight,

in this room,

with you, gentlemen,

or it does not begin at all.

[inspirational music]

Gentlemen, have you all met?

Thank you for being here.

As you can see…

[conversation continue in the background]


Dr. Murphy: And if Abrams makes a pledge

I see no reason why his colleagues

wouldn’t follow suit.

It won’t put a dent in the grand total but

it’s a start.

Dr. Murphy

see if you can add another zero to his pledge.

[music and conversations continue]

There are 200 here.

And with the pledges that came in this week,

it’s… 617


[music rises to triumphant]

[girls voice singing in Italian]

[Children singing in Italian]

[male singing upbeat Italian]

Sonk Mantan Piant.

Hello friends!

Watch out!

They are Americans!

Oh no! Please, do not put me in jail. Please!

No, no jail! They need you to clean their toilets.

[upbeat Italian music]

[DiSalvo singing in Italian]

Man 1: You take money from a kid?!

You coward!

[yelling and shouting]

Policeman: Time to clear the park!

Get out, Dagos!

Go, go!

You’re under arrest.

[background conversations]

Jenkins: Well,

on behalf of the Mayor,

I promise you that this is the last time New York will ever

see an Italian Festival.

The fines, including those attended upon your arrest,

amount to 3,111 dollars,

which happens to be exactly the amount we collected.

It’s your lucky day.

I need to speak to the Mayor.

Jenkins: Oh do you?

Cabrini: This money belongs to the poor!

I will speak to the Mayor, signore!

Who the hell do you think you are?

I am a woman!

And I am Italian!

And I am done with little men like you!

With hearts the size of a peanut!

Jenkins: Officer Rentschler!

Too blind to understand the truth!

To know that we are all human beings!

We are all the same!

Children of God!

And you dismiss us at your own peril!

Jenkins: Officer,

please escort this guinea

back to Five Points where she belongs.

Cabrini: I can walk myself!

Bishop: I warned you!

But you were blinded by ambition!

Naked ambition!

You chose to disobey me

and now your actions

have become the problem of the Archdiocese,

and the souls under my care!

You have left me no choice

but to inform you that your institutions

are to be disbanded,

and you and your sisters are to return to Italy.

I assure you

that the Archdiocese

will handle your wards appropriately.

You mean my children.

Your mission is over, Mother.

My mission has barely begun.

Mother Cabrini.

You ask me to destroy my houses

and run back to Italy like a criminal.

You were arrested, were you not?

This problem will be with us in a hundred years.

There’s no point working yourself

to death trying to change it.

Some things never change.

Forgive me if I don’t have the strength to think like you.

Well, despite that, the Italians

have survived without you,

and somehow they will continue to do so.

You are to leave New York and never return.

This is an order of obedience.

[low tones]

[church bell tolls]

[low violin plays]

Cabrini: It is an order of obedience, and must be obeyed.

Corrigan gave us 30 days,

I intend to use them.

In my absence, Concetta will manage all New York operations.

Until we hear otherwise,

we will continue the work we’ve begun.

As Mother says, we have plenty of time to rest in Heaven.

So, let’s get back to work.

Do you t think the Archbishop will let me stay here without you?

A hooker from Five Points?

I’m going to Rome to fight. Sooc

with every last ounce of my strength.

We are survivors

are we not?

[music continues]

We are.

Would you take me with you?

[seagulls chirping]

[ship foghorn]

[newsie shouting]

You fascinate me, Cabrini.

I can’t tell where your faith ends

100 and your ambition begins.

I must agree with the Archbishop.

This project is overly a ambitious,

perhaps s unrealistic.

Only after little David killed giant. T Goliath.

Did he become king.

You intend to be a king?

I intend to build an empire. Your I Holiness.

An empire of hope.

If you can prove. E that your. Plan has any real chance

any at all.

I could consider your request.

In the meantime, I can not and will not

override the Archbishop.

[church bell tolls]

[door opens]


Sorry for the wait, Mother…

We are late for a dinner.

If you don’t mind walking with us..

The committee has reviewed your application,

but has regretfully declined your loan..

Senator, the project works perfectly, we can host…

Good evening!

So many children…

Mother Cabrini

the Senate does not even make I oans of that size.

We do however wish you the best.

The Senate has made its decision, my dear.

There’s nothing else you can do.

But please, just take a look…

Mother Cabrini!


You’ve wandered into rooms..

Where you simply don’t belong.

[low tones play]

[watery echoes of voices]


Are you well?

We’re making. Dinner, come. And eat something.

Need to rest.


[soft music plays]

[sounds of water]

[music plays]



The first time I saw you

you were marching t through

the most dangerous alley in New York

in your long black cape.

You wore it like a suit of armor.

Like nothing on Earth could stop you.

I don’t know what you’re.

I don’t know anything about the Pope or the Senate..

But I know you’re not supposed to stop.

You said you’d fight with. Every I ast ounce of your strength.

[low tones and water]

You must put your armor on.

[triumphant music]

[bell toll and water]

[violin plays]


[music continues]


[Heart beat sound]

[men speaking in Italian]


Open your-hearts

to the refugee

to the Italian immigrant who traveled across the ocean!

In America,

in the great city of New York,

the life of an Italian immigrant…

Officer! Escort her out now.

Stop, my dear!

Not one step further!

Officer, you are to remove this woman.

You did not permit me to speak earlier,

Senator B odio.

So I shall speak here,


Throw her out!

Because I speak for the immigrant…

Only men are allowed to speak here!

I speak for your countrymen..

Who wager everything on America.

To discover what?

‘Even rats have it better!

This is an outrage!

Speak for those little girls

abandoned to the streets.

Who somehow survive… only to become prostitutes.

Speak for families,

stacked in tenements.

For fathers,

who die alone in gutters..

Like dogs.

In one voice they tell you..

They don’t want your pity.

For they are Italian.

They are proud.

But they also tell you…

Enough! This is no place for a woman!

One small g gesture of love..

Can change everything.

A word of hope.

A touch.

The medicine of a loving hand.

These are the things that change the world.

And in one voice they ask the great Senator B odio,

to hear their case.

For at the hour of our death

we will all be asked one question.

What did we do for the poor?

The sick?

The homeless?

For those stripped of dignity?

What did we do?

Such a loan. Would be risky enough if made to a man.

Isn’t a building worth the same no matter who owns it?

If I fail

I offer as collateral a prime piece of Manhattan real estate.

All my holdings in Lombardy,

and my property on the Hudson.

In other words, gentlemen.

If I fail, everything I have is yours.

I am overriding his order but..

It may cost you everything.

[low triumphant tones]

We are bold,

or we die.

That is how I learned to live in America..

Thank you, Your Holiness.

[soft music]

[ship’s foghorn]

[background conversations]

Bishop: Mother Cabrini!

Cabrini: Your Grace.

What an honor that you came to greet us.

May I?

No, thank you. I can manage.


Bishop: When I was a boy,

I would sit in a parlor

with my father and his cronies.

All of them fresh from Ireland, all of them illiterate.


when the whiskey hit my father,

he would pin me

with his blue eyes and say,

“Listen to me, Mikey boy,

our generation

is digging the whole bloody tunnel from old Croton Dam.

So you lads can drink cool water from a tap.

And don’t you forget it.”

Well, I never did forget.

Please don’t think I don’t understand.

Or that I don’t on some level

admire what you’re doing.

But please know, Mother,

that you have swatted the hornet’s nest.

And neither I nor the Pope

can protect you from what may come.

Good morning, Mr. Merton.

Francesca Cabrini.

Shall we begin?

[soft music]

Of course half of the workers must be Italian.

Italian? No, no, no. Sorry, sister.

We built Rome, I am sure we can build a hospital.

I’m afraid.

It is not negotiable.

And all workers… including Italians

must get the same pay.

We’ll see what Dr. Murphy has to say about that.

You’ll have to do as I say, Mr. Merton.

And from now on, the sisters and I sleep here.

[female opera singing]

No, no Salvitore…

[window crashes]


[liquid splashing]

[fire crackling]

[low dramatic music]


[dramatic music]

[background conversations]

[determining music]

I have a favor to ask, Mr. Calloway.

Cabrini: I will see the Mayor.

Now, Mr. Jenkins.

You will never see the Mayor.

Mr. Calloway wants a front page story.

And Mother is the only one holding it back.

So I’d do as she says.

Jenkins: Mr. Mayor.

Mother Cabrini.

Cabrini: Your Honor.

[violin music]

Where’s Calloway?

Cabrini: I’d like to speak to the Mayor alone, Mr. Jenkins.

Do you know why I am here, Mr. Mayor?

Mayor: Not in the least.

Are you aware of the fire at my construction site?

Mayor: If I was kept abreast of every fire in this…

It was arson.

The Detective Unit is on the third floor.

Is there anything else I can help you with?

Cabrini: Lives were almost lost…

And I am willing to believe

that whoever did this

thought the place was empty.

Careful, Mother.

I am not here to accuse.

Mr. Calloway, however, has his own ideas.

I believe I am being threatened by a nun.

Cabrini: If Mr. Calloway

Mr. Calloway is a lying son of a bitch!

Cabrini: Mr. Calloway is a friend.

Who would be delighted to hear that you have put your support

behind my hospital

and the good work of.

Oh, no, no, no!

If you think you’re gonna march in here and tell me

I want the best hospital!

For your people

and for mine!

Oh, what rot!

Cabrini: You may think we are lazy, dirty animals,

but someday, sooner than you think,

there will be an Italian in this office!

And he will not be cleaning it!

He will be running New York.

Because most of these ‘Dagos’

are already Americans!

You have an election coming up, do you not?

Support my work now,

and you will have their loyalty.

That I promise.

And if I cannot have your support,

I will settle for your protection.

Mr. Calloway will be very happy to hear it,

as will the voters of Five Points.

And I thought you were new at this.

Yes, please.

Now, I need to know that this is the end of all the fires, of any kind.

And I am willing to take your word for it, because you are a good man, and good men don’t lie to nuns.

[glasses clink]

It’s a shame that you’re a woman, Mother.

You would have made an excellent man.

Oh no, Mr. Mayor.

Men could never do what we do.

[swell to triumphant music]

[somber music]

“An Empire of Hope,” by Theodore Calloway.

My dear friend, Frances Xavier Cabrini, arrived in New York with nothing but a small suitcase and a few sisters, and went on to become one of the great entrepreneurs of her time.

Her first hospital built amid the smoke of controversy was soon considered one of the finest in all New York, and was a source of pride and healing and hope for immigrants of all nations.

Cabrini and her sisters went on to found hundreds of hospitals, orphanages, schools, and aid centers all around the world on every continent including institutions deep in China.

It was the largest charitable empire the world had ever known an accomplishment equal to that of any Rockefeller or Vanderbilt.

And all of her institutions were run by women.

Cabrini continued to defy death until the age of 67.

She was buried at her grand orphanage high above the Hudson, just as she predicted.

She was canonized at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

The great plaza across which she had walked alone so many years before was packed to bursting.

Just as Cabrini had wrapped her arms around the forgotten immigrant, America now embraced her as one of its own.

A celebration was held in her honor at.

Chicago’s Soldier Field, while hundreds of thousands more listened on radios all across the country.

Cabrini was the first American saint, and is the patron saint of all immigrants.

And even now she begs us to ask what kind of world do we want?

And what will we do to achieve it?


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