Written by: Celita Diaz-Perillo (03/03/2024)

It is perfect that this movie, Cabrini, is releasing on International Women’s Day. There is definitely much to be said about a film with strong women’s roles, where they do much to transform hard circumstances into opportunities, and where they fight for justice.

I must begin, first, by stating that this is a movie BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. In particular, it is a Catholic movie portraying a nun and her adventures of trying to change the world for good, but the grand majority of this movie is about HUMAN RIGHTS more than a stand for religious views. The last 12-15 minutes is when the focus changes and there is a noticeable difference in the main character’s dress (regarding her habit) and the general feel of the movie ends with heavier Catholic touches. But please do not let that keep you from watching. I am still wowed by the movie- so much so that putting this review together has me both stumped and elated to share.


The movie starts off with Francesca Cabrini serving the poor and needy in an orphanage in Codogno, Italy (in the Lombardy region), and then her adventures move her to Five Points, New York..

“Begin the mission and the means will come.” (Cabrini quote)

Francesca perseveres past so many challenges, always advocating for the forgotten ones, who, in this movie, are the Italian immigrant children left orphaned in the dark corners of New York, while “civilized society” ignores and scorns them, regarding them even less than the disgusting city rats.

Cabrini is undaunted by perceived impossibilities: squashed dreams, lack of funds or no place to live, the pushback from wealthy government or religious officials, rejections, danger, threats of death, etc… Even her own chronic illness doesn’t deter her!

Even now, Cabrini’s words echo to me, “We can serve our weakness or we can serve our purpose. Not both.”

She charges forward in spite of it all, desiring only to do her best to care for and to love the unloved, to offer them a chance to thrive in the harsh world. With love, practical care, and a strong will, Francesca Cabrini and her sisters in faith combat all forms of discouragement, delay, and danger, but the vision of helping others is firmly fixed on their hearts, and that drives them forward.

Cabrini’s goal was “To build an empire of hope.”

What else can I say? There are so many fantastic quotes, mini lessons, and historical moments to learn from. This thought-provoking, inspirational, and educational film is a work of art: breathtaking, heart-breaking, compelling; heavy and laden with real-to-life hardships and with triumphant hope.

The combination of strategic cinematography, precise and meaningful editing, and a successful, professional production make Cabrini striking, poignant, and so interesting. Every character is unique, and each actor gives a flawless representation of their historical persona (obviously, as far as I know). The historical situations are insightful, and the human condition is tragic and flawed. And I HIGHLY recommend it.

Some might ask me, what age is appropriate for this film? With the support of parents or guardians, and the opportunity for discussion along the way, I do believe the movie could be watched even by 12 year olds, but obviously that is subjective. With my own children, I would go cautiously for those who feel things deeply, as there are some rather difficult circumstances, but I don’t necessarily think that it needs to be avoided, just handled tactfully, with wisdom and discernment, and knowledge. There is much we can ALL learn while watching this film.

In conclusion, I leave you with one last Cabrini quote that blessed my heart.

“When I’m away, learn to face your fears. Not just to carry on, but to lead and demonstrate you can do all things – all things in Him who strengthens us. Whether I am here or not.”


Released: 03/08/24 (Theatrically)

Running Time: 145 Minutes (Production Studio Name)

Rated PG-13 (For thematic material, some violence, language and smoking.)

Links for Cabrini:

Official Site