known as Catherine Marie Drexel
Memorial 3 March
Daughter of the extremely wealthy railroad entrepreneurs and philanthropists Francis
Anthony and Emma (Bouvier) Drexel. Taught from an early age to use her wealth
for the benefit of others; her parents even opened their home to the poor several
days each week. Katharine's older sister Elizabeth founded a Pennsylvania trade
school for orphans; her younger sister founded a liberal arts and vocational school
for poor blacks in Virginia. Katharine nursed her mother through a fatal three-year
illness before setting out on her own; Emma died in 1883. Interested in the condition
of Native Americans, during an audience in 1887, she asked Pope Leo XIII to send
more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend, Bishop James O'Connor. The pope replied,
"Why don't you become a missionary?" She visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux chief,
and began her systematic aid to Indian missions, eventually spending millions
of the family fortune. Entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy.
the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored, now known simply
as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA in 1891.
Advised by Mother Frances Cabrini on getting the Order's rule approved in Rome.
She received the approval in 1913. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic
schools in 13 states, 40 mission centers, 23 rural schools, 50 Indian missions,
and Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, the first United States
university for blacks. Segregationists harassed her work.
a heart attack, she spent her last twenty years in prayer and meditation. The
Shrine of Saint Katharine is at the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed
Sacrament, 1663 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, Pennsylvania, USA 19020-8502, tel/215.639.7878,
email/kathdrexelataol.com; it is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays, and in
2008 was declared a National Shrine.
Born 26 November 1858
at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died 3 March 1955 of
natural causes at the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, 1663
Bristol Pike, Bensalem, Pennsylvania, USA 19020-8502, tel/215.244.9900
26 January 1987 by Pope John Paul II Beatified 20 November 1988 by Pope John Paul
Canonized 1 October 2000 at Rome by Pope John Paul II
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