(director/writer: Alejandro Monteverde; screenwriter: Rodd Barr; cinematographer: Gorka Gomez Andreu; editor: Brian Scofield; music: Gene Back; cast: Cristiana Dell’Anna (Cabrini), Patch Darragh (Dr. Murphy), David Morse (Archbishop Corrigan), John Lithgow (Mayor Gould), Giancarlo Giannini (Pope Leo XIII), Romano Maggiora Vergano (Vittoria), Federico Ielapi (Paolo), Jeremy Bobb (Calloway), Giampiero Judica (Father Morelli), Federico Castelluccio (Senator Bodio), Sean Cullen (Peterson), Rolando Villazon (DiSalvo), Peter Lojacono (Vincenzo), Peter Arpesella (Sen. Bodio, Consul Riva, Puppet 1, Puppet 2, Geno-voice); Runtime: 140; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Jonathan Sanger, Leo Severino; Angel Studios; 2024)

“Inspirational film about keeping the faith and making a positive difference in society.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Mexican-born writer-director Alejandro Monteverde (“Sound of Freedom”/”Little Boy”) and co-writer Rodd Barr reverently present this beautiful portrait of the beatified Italian nun Frances Xavier Cabrini (Cristiana Dell’Anna), who was the strong-willed, trailblazer nun who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Mission
her helped poor Italian children during the bigoted period of late 19th Century New York City.

Mother Cabrini was the first U.S. citizen to be canonized a saint by the Catholic Church.

In 1889, Francesca Cabrini works at a small institution in Italy and approaches the Pope Leo XIII (Giancarlo Giannini) to approve her plans of working in China. The Pope instead allows her to begin a Catholic Mission in the Big Apple. With a few subordinates and little money, Cabrini begins her challenging task.

Cabrini sets up shop in NYC’s Five Points, a slum of disease, crime, pimps, and prostitutes
. She works there with a disillusioned priest – Fr. Morelli (Giampiero Judica). But despite the doubts of NYC’s Archbishop Corrigan (David Morse) and other bigwigs in the Catholic Church, Cabrini and her Sisters revive an orphanage – providing food, clothing and basic education to the destitute Italian children.
Meanwhile, she has solid friendships with the following: the former hooker Vittoria (Romana Maggiora Vergano), the orphaned Paolo (Federico Ielapi) and Enzo (Peter Lojacono). She also aligns herself with the charitable Dr. Murphy (Patch Darragh), a rare Irishman at the time not prejudiced against Italians. All help in building her Mission. 

With limited funds, Cabrini solicits the help of local politicians. This bothers the Mayor (John Gould) as well as the Archbishop. Thereby Cabrini turns for help to Mr. Calloway (Jeremy Bobb), senior reporter at the New York Times.

Cabrini soon finds herself in possession of a large abandoned property and enlists the Italian opera singer Enrico Disalvo (Rolanda Villazon) to raise money through his charity performances.

Cabrini goes ahead despite opposition in America and Rome, and her charity work is a success.

It’s a well-done, inspirational film about keeping the faith and making a positive difference in society. Though it would have been better served if shortened from 140 minutes.