Columbus Cabrini

Explorer Christopher Columbus (left), St. Francis Xavier Cabrini (right). House lawmakers want to replace Columbus Day with one honoring Cabrini. Columbus image courtesy; Cabrini image courtesy

The first Monday next October will be Frances Xavier Cabrini Day in Colorado, not Columbus Day. 

Gov. Jared Polis Friday signed into law House Bill 1031, which renames the holiday after the Catholic nun who started several charitable organizations in Colorado, including the Queen of Heaven orphanage in Denver and a summer camp for girls that is now the home of the Mother Cabrini Shrine.

Cabrini Day will be the first paid holiday in the state named after a woman. Eleven states have already changed their Columbus Day holidays.

Mother Cabrini died in 1917 and was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1946.

The bill's House sponsors, Democratic Reps. Adrienne Benavidez of Denver and Kyle Mullica of Thornton, advocated for naming the day after Cabrini on the suggestion of the Italian-American community, which has grown weary of the annual fight over Columbus. 

Benavidez had tried twice before the remove Columbus Day from the list of state holidays. 

“Let’s celebrate the values we aspire to, the values that Mother Cabrini embodied, rather than debating year after year someone who represents tragedy to many Coloradans,” Mullica said during House debate in February.

Opponents levied a charge of revisionist history against the bill. 

Denver and Boulder have celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day since 2016.

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