Daily Prayer in the Life of the Banker Francis Drexel

October 1, 2015

Francis Anthony Drexel, the father of St. Katharine Drexel

Francis Anthony Drexel, the father of St. Katharine Drexel

During the winter, when the family lived at 1503, Papa Drexel went directly to his room each afternoon when he returned from the bank. He would close the door, stay there for some time, and then go the music room. Beautiful notes would pour from the organ with the gold-looking pipes that Francis Drexel loved so.

While Papa was in his room, neither Mama nor the girls dared to open the door. One day, when Kate was tiptoeing past, a maid saw her.

“He’s not asleep,” the woman whispered.

“Isn’t he?” Kate asked. She had always thought that her father napped when he came home from the bank.

“No.” The maid shook her head. “But I’m the only one who knows what he does in there. If you promise not to tell a soul, I’ll tell you. Follow me to the pantry downstairs.”

St. Katharine Drexel at 16.

St. Katharine Drexel at 16.

Kate was a bit worried because the servant had spied on her father. She wasn’t sure it was right. And she wasn’t sure, either, that she could promise not to tell her mother. Bud the maid didn’t wait for Kate’s promise.

“I’d forgot whether I’d finished my dusting,” the woman whispered, “and I rushed to his room thinking I’d get it done before he came home from the bank. But wouldn’t you know that would be the day Mr. Drexel had come home early? I opened the door and there he was—the Mister himself—on his knees praying. He was praying so hard, mind you, that he never even heard the sound I made. I was so surprised to see him, you know. And I’ve been back since, always accidental like—not to peep—and every day he’s doing the same thing, praying.”


Ellen Tarry, Katharine Drexel: Friend of the Neglected (New York: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1958), 25-26.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 494


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