LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan (WABC) -- New York Gov. Cuomo Andrew unveiled a statue of Mother Cabrini on Columbus Day in New York City.
The event took place in Manhattan's Battery Park City, a fitting location to pay tribute to the patroness of immigrants on Columbus Day.
With the Columbus Day Parade having to go virtual this year due to the pandemic, the governor says there is a silver lining.
"This year we unveil a magnificent monument to our Italian-American legacy and that monument will stand for all-time," Cuomo said. "Last Columbus Day if you remember, one year ago, we said that we could work together and create a statue of the Blessed Mother Cabrini. And now in honor of Columbus Day, we will do just that."
Cuomo showed his appreciation for the Italian-American Roman Catholic nun Mother Cabrini.
"Mother Cabrini is the personification of the Italian-American legacy," he said. "She founded 67 schools, hospitals and orphanages. She served the poor and the immigrants. She had boundless energy and unlimited capacity and she was a model for female empowerment before the expression was ever used - doing all of this in the late 1800s and early 1900s."
The memorial includes interpretive panels, highlighting Mother Cabrini's service to Italian-American immigrants and the poor in New York including building dozens of orphanages, hospitals, and schools. The plaza is surrounded by seating and a mosaic created from stones from Mother Cabrini's birthplace of Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Italy.
"This Columbus Day, the celebration of Mother Cabrini is even more appropriate than when we announced it last year because of the difficulties that we are facing," Cuomo said. "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 mettle - it's what one does in the fury of the storm, and that's where we are today. In this complex world, may this statue serve to remind us of the principles that made us great as a country and as a people and the principles that keep us special on this globe - the values of Mother Cabrini: compassion, acceptance, community, freedom, faith, hope and love."
The bronze Memorial which sits on a marble base depicts Mother Cabrini on a paper boat with two children, a representation of the paper boats which, as a child, Mother Cabrini would fold and fill with violets. Placing them in the currents outside of her home, these boats would send her "missionaries" around the world. The paper boat serves as a symbol of hope and courage: Although fragile and delicate, it can hold against the water's currents and stay afloat - symbolizing Mother Cabrini's determination in the face of adversity and struggle.
The three figures are all facing the Statue of Liberty, a beacon of hope for immigrants as they entered New York Harbor to begin their new lives in America, and where Mother Cabrini arrived on a mission to help Italian migrants in 1889. The young girl, a reflection of Mother Cabrini's youth, is holding a book, a symbol of Mother Cabrini's commitment to educating children. As music has been important to the heritage of immigrants, the young boy is holding luggage and an ocarina, an instrument invented near Mother Cabrini's birthplace, representing the music and culture immigrants have brought to America.
As for the virtual Columbus Day Parade, Governor Cuomo was this year's grand marshal. Brooklyn native Dr. Anthony Fauci was the co-grand marshal.
Bishop of the Brooklyn Diocese Nicholas DiMarzio, whose church recently requested a temporary restraining order over Cuomo's new NY COVID restrictions that was denied by a judge, was also in attendance.
"I am so happy that there were so many people who supported this effort and I am happy with the unique design which shows Mother Cabrini in motion and taking care of children," DiMarzio said. "I know for the artists it was a work of passion, and this statue does her justice. We hope that people who visit this memorial will recognize that history should be repeated, that there was a care for the outcast and marginalized which Mother Cabrini understood, and we need that same care today. This is not just history, we want to make history with a new understanding of how we take care of people."
Meanwhile, the NYPD was guarding the statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle from any potential vandalism during this year of unrest.