On Sunday, September 22, 1946, over 100,000 Chicagoans filled Soldier Field. They were not present to watch a Bears game. No screaming or consumption of alcohol occurred. The large crowd was praying a holy hour; that is, sitting all together in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The occasion was the celebration of the canonization of Saint Mother Cabrini by Pope Pius XII.
Frances Xavier Cabrini arrived in the United States in 1889 not speaking one word of English. She had been asked by Pope Leo XIII to minister to the Italian immigrants in the US. By the time of her death almost 30 years later, Mother Cabrini had founded schools, hospitals and orphanages across the United States, not to mention religious houses of her congregation across all of North and South America. When asked how a woman committed to prayer, chastity, poverty and obedience could be such a shrewd administrator, Cabrini responded, "We spend millions but haven't a cent. We draw from the Bank of Providence. Its funds are inexhaustible."
Her feast day was established on November 13th, and Cardinal Samuel Stritch said the following over WGN Radio after her canonization, words that ring true seventy years later:
She loved us. She was our benefactress. She rode our street cars. She went begging in our streets. Through alleys she went in search of little hungry children who were homeless and friendless. The very day she died she had been wrapping candy for Christmas gifts for poor children...Today we pray to her and beg her to be the special patron of our city. She loved Chicago. She served Chicago's best interests. She is a benefactress of Chicago. Mother Cabrini, pray for us.