Katharine Drexel

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Katharine Drexel

Katherine-drexel.jpg
St. Katharine Drexel
Foundress
Born(1858-11-26)November 26, 1858
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMarch 3, 1955(1955-03-03) (aged 96)
Bensalem, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
BeatifiedNovember 20, 1988 by Pope John Paul II
CanonizedOctober 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II
Major shrineCathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, U.S.
FeastMarch 3
PatronagePhilanthropy, racial justice
Entrance to the Drexel shrine in Bensalem, PA

Katharine Drexel (born Catherine Mary Drexel; November 26, 1858 – March 3, 1955) was an American heiress, philanthropist, religious sister, and educator. She was the second person born in what is now the United States to be canonized as a saint and the first one born a U.S. citizen.

Life and religious work[edit]

Katharine Mary Drexel was born Catherine Marie Drexel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 26, 1858, to Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Langstroth. Her family owned a considerable banking fortune, and her uncle Anthony Joseph Drexel was the founder of Drexel University in Philadelphia. She had two natural sisters, Louise and Elizabeth. She was a distant cousin of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis on her father's side.

She took religious vows, and took the name Mother Katharine, dedicating herself and her inheritance to the needs of oppressed Native Americans and African-Americans in the southern, western and southwestern United States, and was a vocal advocate of racial tolerance. Joined by 13 other women, she then established a religious congregation, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to further this cause. She also financed more than 60 missions and schools around the United States, as well as the founding of Xavier University of Louisiana[1] – the only historically Black, Roman Catholic university in the United States.

Sainthood[edit]

Katherine was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 20, 1988, and canonized on October 1, 2000, one of only a few American saints and the second American-born saint (Elizabeth Ann Seton was first, as a natural-born US citizen, born in New York City in 1774 and canonized in 1975). The Vatican cited a fourfold legacy of Drexel:

  • A love of the Eucharist and perspective on the unity of all peoples;
  • courage and initiative in addressing social inequality among minorities;
  • her efforts to achieve quality education for all;
  • and selfless service, including the donation of her inheritance, for the victims of injustice. (She is known as the patron saint of racial justice and of philanthropists.[citation needed])

Her feast day is observed on March 3, the anniversary of her death. She is buried in Cornwells Heights, Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania.

Saint Katharine Drexel Mission Center and Shrine[edit]

The Saint Katharine Drexel Mission Center and National Shrine[2] is located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. The Mission Center[3] offers retreat programs, historic site tours, days of prayer, presentations about Saint Katharine Drexel, as well as lectures and seminars related to her legacy. Furniture and exhibits tell the story of St. Katharine Drexel, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and the accomplishments of Black and Native American people. Her tomb lies under the main altar in St. Elizabeth Chapel.[4] Originally known as St. Elizabeth's Convent, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[5]

Relics[edit]

A second-class relic of St. Katharine Drexel can be found inside the altar of the Mary chapel at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Raleigh, North Carolina,[6] and in the Day Chapel of Saint Katharine Drexel Parish in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

Namesakes[edit]

St. Benedict the Moor School, St. Augustine (c.1898), paid for by St. Katharine Drexel

Numerous Catholic parishes, schools, and churches bear the name of St. Katharine Drexel.

Parishes[edit]

Schools[edit]

Schools St. Katharine Drexel founded include (but are not limited to):

  • St. Benedict the Moor School
  • Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, Beaumont, Texas
  • Sacred Heart Catholic School, Port Arthur, Texas.
  • St. Joseph Indian Normal School, now called Drexel Hall, on the campus of St. Joseph's College, Rensselaer, Indiana. The Indian Normal School operated for eight years, from 1888 to 1896
  • St. Michael Indian School, serving grades K–12 in St. Michaels, Arizona
  • St. Mark School, the first in New York City for African-American Catholic children
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and School, Founded 1912, Atlanta, Georgia
  • St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church and School, Founded 1932, Nashville, Tennessee
  • St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish was founded in 1893. St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament opened St. Ignatius of Loyola School in 1926. The school moved to its current facility in 1967 in Philadelphia. <https://omssiphila.imsphila.org/our-school/history/>
  • St. Emma's Industrial and Agricultural Institute (later St. Emma Military Academy for Boys) founded on the Belmead Plantation near Powhatan, Virginia in 1897
  • St. Frances de Sales School for Girls founded on the Belmead Plantation near Powhatan, Virginia in 1899
  • St. Peter Claver Catholic School in Macon, Georgia, in 1913 with the help of Bishop Benjamin Kiely and Father Ignatius Lissner.
  • Xavier University of Louisiana

Schools named in her honor include:

Churches and chapels[edit]

The choir loft window in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Sioux, Saint Joseph's Indian School, Chamberlain, South Dakota, was donated by the Drexel Family.

Streets[edit]

Drexel Avenue, Oak Creek, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. (Drexel Towne Centre, Oak Creek, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.)

Other[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "XU Quick Facts". Xavier University of Louisiana. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  2. ^ National Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel webpage. Saint Katharine Drexel Mission Center and National Shrine websection (of "Saint Katharine Drexel / Foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament 1891" website). Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  3. ^ Saint Katharine Drexel Mission Center and National Shrine websection home page ("Saint Katharine Drexel / Foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament 1891" website). Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  4. ^ Saint Elizabeth Chapel webpage. Saint Katharine Drexel Mission Center and National Shrine websection (of "Saint Katharine Drexel / Foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament 1891" website). Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  6. ^ St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church, Raleigh, North Carolina
  7. ^ St. Katherine Drexel Parish, Cape Coral, Florida
  8. ^ SKD Parish Beaver Dam, WI
  9. ^ St. Joseph's Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel, Columbia, Virginia Archived 2014-07-11 at archive.today, richmonddiocese.org; accessed October 19, 2014.
  10. ^ Pope, John. "Xavier University chapel will 'create an air of beauty and mystery'". Times Picayune. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  11. ^ David Leighton, "Street Smarts: Generous nun the namesake for Drexel Road," Arizona Daily Star, March 14, 2014
  12. ^ "FLP – Katharine Drexel Branch". Free Library of Philadelphia.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]