Katherine Drexel was born in 1858 to a prominent and wealthy Philadelphia
family. As a young adult she inherited fifteen million dollars when both
her stepmother and father died.
Katherine Drexel was one of three daughters to Francis Anthony Drexel.
Katherine was the second child of Hannah Langstroth, Francis’ wife.
Katherine was born on November 26, 1858.
Only one short month after Katherine was born, Hannah passed away.
Francis had later remarried to Emma Bouvier
Francis and Emma ha a child, another daughter, Louise.
Elizabeth, Katherine’s older sister, Katherine herself and Louise, were
taught to use their wealth to help benefit others.
A few days out of his busy schedule, Francis would open his home to the
homeless and poor.
All three girls were brought up in a tender, loving and deep faith
On Her Own
Katherine set out on her own after nursing her step-mother, Emma, for two
She took her estimated $ 15 million, after her parents died, and put it to
good use helping others.
Katherine was very passionate about helping those less fortunate then
herself, both financially and spiritually.
She had an overpowering love for God. A love that ran deep within her
veins, that she dedicated her life to Christ and followed his word.
The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
In 1891, Katherine took her vows and became a nun.
Katherine began a congregation called The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
for Indians and Colored People.
The congregation was based in Cornwell Heights, near Philadelphia, PA.
She had also instituted a fourth vow in the congregation besides poverty,
chastity, and obedience.
Katherine vowed, “To be the mother and servant of the Indian and Negro
races according to the rule of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and not
to undertake any work that would lead to the neglect and abandonment of the
Indian and the Colored races.”
In 1894, Katherine opened a school for Indians in New Mexico.
During her time in New Mexico, Katherine contracted typhoid fever in 1912.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection that now is rare in the U.S…
Symptoms include unusually high fever, headache, loss of appetite, fatigue,
and abdominal pain.
Unfortunately, Katherine had to put things on hold while she recuperated.
After her recovery, Katherine opened another school in 1915. Xavier
Xavier University in New Orleans, was the first United Sates Catholic
institution for higher education for blacks.
By 1942, she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, 40
mission centers, 23 rural schools and 50 Indian missions.
Death of Mother Katherine Drexel
Unfortunately, Katherine suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire.
She spent the next nineteen years of her life in constant prayer and to
also mature in the contemplative life.
Katherine tragically died in March 1955 in Cornwell Heights.
She left behind a true legacy of love and a host of dedicated sisters to
provide education and assistance to the Colored and Indian races.
At a jubilee mass on October 1, 2000, Mother Katherine Drexel became the
second native born citizen to be declared a saint.
At the service Pope John Paul II praised Katherine Drexel for all the work
that she had done throughout her life.
The Pope stated, “Her apostolate helped bring about a growing awareness of
the need to combat all forms of racism through education and social
services. Katherine Drexel is an excellent example of that practical
charity and generous solidarity with the less fortunate which has long been
the distinguishing mark of American Catholics.”
Attending the mass were members of the Blessed Sacrament Order, whose 225
nuns run more than 40 schools and ministry sites in 13 states.
When Robert Gutherman was 14 years old he had and incurable hearing
problem. His full recovery in 1974 was attributed to Mother Katherine
Amy wall was also another miracle. Amy was born deaf. After all medical
hopes and efforts had failed, her parents began to pray to Katherine
Drexel. Miraculously, in 1994 Amy could hear even after the doctors had
said that there would be no possibility for Amy to hear again.