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Saint Katherine Drexel

Mother Katharine Drexel to be Canonized

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Mural of Katharine Drexel

Mural of Katharine Drexel at Drexel University

Photo by John Fischer
Pope John Paul II will canonize the Blessed Mother Katharine Drexel on October 1, 2000 in ceremonies at St. Peter's in Vatican City.

The canonization of Mother Drexel will make Philadelphia the only Archdiocese in the United States to lay claim to two saints of the Roman Catholic Church. Saint John Newmann, the fourth Catholic bishop of Philadelphia was canonized in 1977. There are currently four Americans recognized as saints by the Catholic Church.

As reported by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament on their website, Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, expressed his joy over the announcement which was made in March of 2000. "This is truly a joyous occasion for all of us," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "Catholics everywhere, and especially in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, will rightfully rejoice at this great news."

"Clearly, God worked through Mother Katharine Drexel who did His Will and was of service to the poorest of the poor," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "She is a shinning example to all believers and to all people of good will. Mother Katharine gave up her family fortune to devote her life to the poor & oppressed, particularly Native American and African American peoples. She believed that we are all one people united in the Holy Eucharist, the sacrament which is Jesus' 'total gift of self."

Katharine Drexel was born in 1858, the daughter of Francis Drexel, a banking magnate and business partner of J.P. Morgan. She was born and raised in a world of wealth living in lavish mansions, and traveling the world. Her family, however, were devout Catholics and  reknowned for their charity work, distributing food, clothing and money to the poor from their mansion near Philadelphia.

At the age of 30, Drexel entered a convent and used her $20 million inheritance to establish a missionary order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Bensalem, PA founded in 1891. This was the same year that her uncle, Anthony J. Drexel founded Drexel University in Philadelphia.

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