St. Katharine Drexel
According to recorded history, St. Katharine Drexel is the secondU.S-born saint, and he was born on November 26, 1858 in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania. Her father, Francis Anthony Drexel was a wealthybusinessman and an associate of J.P Morgan. Katharine’s mother, HannahJane Langstroth died five weeks after Katharine was born.
Katharine alongside her sister was taken care of by their uncle and aunttill 1860.
In 1860, her father married Emma Bouvier, who took great care of thegirls and taught them the virtues of giving and helping the needy.
Dedication and Devotion
Katherine was home-schooled and raised as an heiress in Philadelphia.Her family had great wealth and was sold out to philanthropy. They gaveto the needy and did charitable works often.
Emma, Katharine’s stepmother battled terminal cancer for a long timetill she died in 1883. This period had an immense impact on Katharine’slife.
In 1884, she traveled all over the United States with her father. Onthis journey, she became aware of all the sufferings and injustice thatfaced the African Americans and the Native Americans across the country.She was deeply moved and decided to make a difference.
Following her father’s death in 1885, she and her sisters inherited afortune. She took the baton of his family by establishing and fundingschools and churches. She strongly believed that education should beaccessible to everyone. She was particularly devoted to the NativeAmericans and African Americans in the South and Western parts of thecountry.
On one of her trips abroad, she had a private conversation with Pope LeoXIII to ask for recommendation of a religious order that could sendmissionaries to staff her mission schools.
She was then challenged by the pope to also devote her life alongsideher money to mission work.
At 29, without any experience, Katharine devoted her life to mission andshe started her training with the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania.
In 1891, she took her vows.
She founded Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament with the help of some nuns.This was devoted to the Native Americans and the African Americans. Hermoney went into the mission.
In 1894, Katharine founded a school for Native Americans in New Mexico.
She went on to set up schools across the country for the AfricanAmericans which included a secondary school in New Orleans. In 1915, thesecondary school became Xavier University.
In 1927 she built convents across the countryin Columbus, Chicago, New York City and other places. In 1941, Pope PiusXII commended her great devotion to mission.
The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament grew in numbers and set up 145missions and 62 schools, which includes Xavier University.
In 1935, Katharine had a heart attack and two years after, she retiredfrom the leadership of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
It is estimated that during her life time, she gave over 20 milliondollars to charity. The Order she founded is still dedicated to missionstill date.
Death and Canonization
On the 3rd of March, 1955, Katharine died at 96 in Pennsylvania.
In 1988, she was beatified.
St. Katharine was canonized on October 1st, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Katharine Drexel
- Did you know that St. Katharine is the patron saint of
racial justice and of philanthropists?
- Did you know that St. Katharine’s feast day is March 3rd?
- Did you know that St. Katherine never called Emma “stepmother”, she
called her mother?
- Did you know that St Katharine had two sisters?
- Did you know that St Katharine was the first saint born a U.S.
Prayer to St. Katharine Drexel
Ever Loving God, you called St. Katharine Drexel to teach the message ofthe Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to the Black andNative American peoples.By her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poorand oppressed. Draw us all into the Eucharistic community of YourChurch, that we may be one in You.Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reignswith You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.