Saint Katharine Drexel Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
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Saint Katharine Drexel was an American heiress, nun, and missionary born in 1858 and died in 1955. Additionally, she was a philanthropist. From a young age, Drexel learned from her family the importance of sharing with others. They used to distribute clothing, food, and rent assistance to needy people in the streets of Philadelphia.
Growing up without a mother and later watching her stepmother suffer from cancer taught her a great lesson. She concluded that money is not everything because it can purchase safety from neither pain nor death.
Early Life and Education
Saint Katharine Drexel alias Catherine Mary Drexel was born on November 26, 1858, in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in the United States. She was the second born of Francis Anthony Drexel and his wife Hannah Langstroth. Francis earned a living as an investment banker.
Sadly, Drexel lost her mother when she was only five weeks old. Therefore, Drexel and her sister Elizabeth were raised by Ellen, her aunt for two years. In 1860, Francis remarried to Emma Bouvier. He then decided to bring home his daughters. Their stepmother had a daughter in 1863, her name was Louisa.
The three girls received their early education from home, taught by private tutors. Also, they periodically toured Europe and the united states as a way of learning the first-hand geography. This was their father’s idea.
Philanthropic Work and Religious Life
Drexel began her religious life in 1889 as a novice. She received her training from Sisters of Mercy in Pennsylvania. In 1891, she took her vows and began her work. She was the founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament with assistance from her fellow nuns. It was initially the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People.
In 1894, she set up a school in Santa Fe, New Mexico meant for Native Americans. During her travel to America as a girl is when she noticed the plight of Native Americans. Thereafter, she also set up many other schools in many parts of Southwest.
Additionally, African-American children had the privilege of attending school following Drexel’s order. In fact, in 1915, she even opened a secondary school for them in New Orleans, Louisiana. It later came to be Xavier University. In 1935, Drexel had a heart attack and two years after, she decided to give up the lead position of her order.
At the age of 96, Saint Katharine Drexel took her last breath. This was on March 3, 1955, in Bensalem, Pennsylvania in the United States.
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