March 3 — St. Katharine Drexel

March 3, 2014

St. Katharine Drexel

Three sisters: St. Katharine, Louise and Elizabeth Drexel.

Three sisters: St. Katharine, Louise and Elizabeth Drexel.

St. Katharine Drexel, the second America canonized saint, was born into a wealthy family in Philadelphia in 1858.

Her father was an international banker and philanthropist accustomed to spending each evening in a prayerful vigil. Although her mother passed away a few weeks after Katharine’s birth, her stepmother Emma Bouvier , wealthy in her own right, along with a nanny, brought up Katharine and her sisters in a most devoutly Catholic atmosphere.

St. Katharine Drexel

St. Katharine Drexel

The new Mrs. Drexel made sure that there was an oratory  in the house and set a regular time in the girls’ schedule for daily prayer. The family made certain that the children were surrounded with friends who echoed their Catholic beliefs and behavior.  When Katharine was 15 years old, her parents took her to Rome where they were invited to have an audience with Pope Pius IX.  It would be an experience that marked her soul very deeply.

Aided by her excellent Catholic formation, her growing virtues and the subsequent graces that God gives to generous souls, Katharine was ready to apply the maxims that her parents taught–their wealth was a loan from God to accomplish the mission of His choice.

St. Katharine

In 1889, at an audience with Pope Leo XIII, Katharine requested that the Holy Father send some nuns to staff some of the school and missions she was financing.  His answer was surprising. “Why not become a missionary yourself?” On February 12, 1891, St. Katharine professed her vows and founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.


She used her fortune, more than 20 million dollars to bring the Catholic faith to those less financially fortunate, especially the American Indians and Afro-Americans. During her lifetime, she opened and supported 60 schools and missions for the purpose of spreading the Faith.  The last eighteen years of her life were spent in  prayer and suffering, completely immobilized by serious illness. She died on March 3, 1955.

St. Katharine Drexel

The life of St. Katharine Drexel is an enigma in the  materialistic and sinful society of our day. To think that someone would spend a huge fortune on those less fortunate is unthinkable in today’s world. Surely fortunes are spent today to destroy the Catholic Church but to foster It and love It is totally out of the question!  One would also ponder that the direction of St. Katharine’s parents was indispensable in forming her saintly disposition and generosity.  Modern parents would do well to take their example seriously.

St. Katherine Drexel

Let us pray to St. Katharine for the grace of generosity of soul. Those who are blessed with fortune should think carefully about the proper use of it. Those who do not have monetary means should think of how to use the other gifts that God has given to them for His glory

[Source: ANF]

More on the generous contributions of St. Katharine Drexel



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