Saint Katherine Drexel

March 1

Francis Anthony and Hannah Langstroth Drexel were proud parents of a second daughter Katharine, on November 26, 1858. About one month after Katharine's birth, Hannah passed away. A few years later Katharine's father, a well known banker and philanthropist, married Emma Bouvier. The devoted parents instilled the idea that wealth was meant to be shared with others, especially the poor.

Katharine's traveling experiences throughout the northwest exposed her to the plight of the Native Americans on the reservations. This gave her the desire to help alleviate their suffering along with the oppressed among the Black people.

When visiting with Pope Leo XIII in Rome, Katharine asked him for missionaries to staff some of the Indian missions that she as a lay person was financing. She was surprised to hear the Pope suggest that she become a missionary herself. Katharine made the decision to give herself totally to God through service to Black and Native Americans.

On February 12, 1891, after her novitiate at the convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh, Katharine made vows as a religious, founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

Saint Katharine established many ministries, founding and staffing many schools for both Black and Native Americans, including Xavier University, the only predominantly Black Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States.

In 1935, Saint Katharine suffered a severe heart attack and for the next twenty years lived her life in prayerful retirement until her death on March 3, 1955.




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