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Cuomo Swoops In On Columbus Day, Says State Will Help Build Mother Cabrini Statue

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- At Monday's Columbus Day Parade there was a statue standoff between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

This time, a patron saint is at the center of the debate between the two politicians, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

"We're also pleased to announce we're going to build a statue to Mother Cabrini," Cuomo said.

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With that announcement, the governor undermined the mayor and did so to the applause of the Italian-American community.

Mother Cabrini
Mother Cabrini (Desales Media Group)

Mother Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants and the first naturalized American citizen to be canonized, will get a statue -- without the city's help.

"Almost all of our churches in Brooklyn have a statue of Mother Cabrini. It's not another statue we're talking about. It's respect for immigrants," Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said.

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The Diocese of Brooklyn put a statue of Mother Cabrini on its float during the Columbus Day Parade to send a message.

When seeking public feedback to increase the number of statues of women in the city, Mayor de Blasio's administration ignored the overwhelming support for the patron saint, who received the most votes. Instead, seven other women were chosen, many of whom had half as many votes.

The Italian-American community took it as another slight by the mayor, who last year considered removing the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle.

"The Christopher Columbus statue was erected at a time when the Italian-American community was being attacked," Cuomo said. "The Christopher Columbus statue was more about the solidarity with the Italian-American community."

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When asked about the Mother Cabrini statue controversy, Mayor de Blasio did not comment, and his handlers kept CBS2 cameras back. In the past, the mayor said Mother Cabrini could be in the running for the next batch of statues to be considered.

"I'm not fighting with anybody. We just started to do what we thought was right and somebody came to help us. I'm not going to say no to help," Bishop DiMarzio said.

Now it's the governor and not the mayor who is earning praise about how to honor a woman who dedicated her life to making people feel included.

Cuomo will appoint a commission to determine a location for the statue and choose an artist. The Diocese of Brooklyn has raised about $30,000 to build it. The state will fund the rest.

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