Battery Park City Is Home to Statue Honoring Mother Cabrini

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, applauds as the statue of Mother Cabrini is unveiled in Battery Park City on Monday. Photo: Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Oct. 13, 2020

Columbus Day arrived in Battery Park City on Monday, not with a parade but with the unveiling of a statue honoring the Italian-born Mother Cabrini, patron saint of immigrants and the founder of many institutions in the city that helped the needy. The monument now stands near the Museum of Jewish Heritage, overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Isand.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who spoke at the ceremony, credited Mother Cabrini with the founding of 67 schools, hospitals and orphanages.

“Mother Cabrini was tested by seemingly insurmountable challenges. She was trying to help new immigrants who had no skills, no money and couldn't speak the language,” Cuomo said. “She came to New York at the time of smallpox, typhoid and tuberculosis—all deadly diseases for which there was no cure and there was little healthcare and there was stifling poverty.”

The girl in the statue, holding a book, symbolizes Mother Cabrini as a child and her commitment to the education of children. The boy carries a musical instrument, representing the music and culture that immigrants have brought to America. She stands on a paper boat, a symbol of her journey to this country in 1889. Interpretative panels on the statue’s base illustrate highlights in her life.

The statue is the creation of sculptors Giancarlo Biagi and Jill Biagi, who were selected in a competition by the Cuomo-appointed Mother Cabrini Memorial Commission. Cuomo established the commission after Mother Cabrini was passed over by City Hall on a list of famous women deserving of a monument, despite receiving the most nominations. Cuomo was able to site the statue in Battery Park City because it is state-owned land.

Cuomo said Mother Cabrini’s legacy lives on as a lesson in the face of the pandemic, “even more vital [today] because of the difficulties that we are facing. We all know that these are challenging times, but we also know that in the book of life, it is not what one does when the sun is shining that tests our metal—it’s what one does in the fury of the storm.”