Thirty-One Days of Italians
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Thirty-One Days of Italians
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Father Pietro Bandini (1852-1917) A Jesuit priest, Father Bandini first came to America in the early 1880s as a missionary for Native Americans in the northwest. He returned to Italy for a short time, then traveled back to America to assist Italian immigrants in New York City. His previous travels through Arkansas brought him back when he learned of a group of immigrants who needed help in settling there. Recalling an area in the Ozarks similar to Italy’s environment, he assisted in purchasing the land and established Tontitown in 1898, named after Enrico de Tonti, the Father of Arkansas. By 1905, Tontitown was considered the "perfect example of colonization," and in 1909 the town was incorporated with Father Bandini as its first mayor. Through Father Bandini’s efforts and guidance, the Italian immigrants of Tontitown had cultivated the land into vineyards, producing grapes for wine and the Concord grape for commercial use.

The Tontitown Story

Tontitown Grape Festival


Father Geno Baroni (1930-1984) Serving under President Jimmy Carter as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Father Baroni was known for his dedication to improving race relations and the general quality of inner city neighborhoods. He founded and was president of the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs and founded the Urban Rehabilitation Corporation, the forerunner to Housing Counseling Services. His principles focus on a social-action approach to bringing neighborhoods and communities together through understanding and accepting diversity.

President Jimmy Carter’s Columbus Day Speech (1977)

The Baroni Principles (PDF)

The Eisenhower Foundation


Mother Francis Cabrini (1850-1917) With a desire to become a missionary at a young age, Maria Francesca Cabrini devoted her life to helping others. After taking vows and adding Xavier to her name in honor of Jesuit Francis Xavier, Mother Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At the Bishop’s request – and upon the advice of Pope Leo XIII – in 1889 she came to America to work with the Italian immigrants. Once in New York, she quickly established an orphanage, convent, and school to teach catechism. Over the years she traveled back and forth to Italy and established 67 missions, orphanages, hospitals, and school – one for each year of her life. She became an American citizen in 1909. In 1946, she was canonized a saint. Her body is enshrined under glass at the mother Cabrini High School and Shrine. She was the first American citizen to become a saint.

National Women's Hall of Fame

Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Mother Cabrini High School and Shrine

Shrine of Mother Cabrini in New York


Eusebio Francisco Kino [Francesco Chini] (1644-1711) Upon becoming a Jesuit, Chini took the name Francisco as a tribute to Father Francisco Xavier, and years later during his studies in Germany, his name was recorded as Kino. He was sent to Mexico in 1681, and in 1683 went to Baja California to start a mission. During his travels he charted maps and discovered that Baja California was a peninsula. He made numerous expeditions into Arizona, and his maps of the southwest were used until the early 1800s.

Father Eusebio Francisco Kino 

Kino Heritage Society

Copyright 2007-2015 Janice Therese Mancuso
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission except when published with this credit: Excerpt from Thirty-One Days of Italians, 2015 Janice Therese Mancuso.