KATHARINE DREXEL Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


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Name: Katharine Drexel                                                               
Born: 26 November 1858 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania                                   
Died: 3 March 1955 Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania                                   
Katharine Mary Drexel (November 26, 1858 - March 3, 1955) is a Roman Catholic       
She was the daughter of Philadelphia banker Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah       
Jane Langstroth, his first wife. Her mother died when she was five weeks old.       
And her father remarried to Emma Boulvier Drexel. Her house was open three times     
a week to the poor. On 12 February 1891, Katharine founded the Sisters of the       
Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. From the age of 33 until her       
death in 1955, she dedicated her life and personal fortune of US $20 million to     
this work. In 1894, Mother Drexel took part in opening the Sisters' first           
mission school for Native Americans, St. Katharine Indian School in Santa Fe,       
New Mexico. Other schools quickly followed for Native Americans west of the         
Mississippi River, and for the African Americans in the southern part of the         
United States. In 1915 she also founded Xavier University and Xavier Prep in New     
St. Katharine also founded many chapels, convents, and monasteries. Blessed         
Sacrament Monastery in Tucson, Arizona is an example of the tasteful                 
architecture that she advocated for religious institutions. At her death in 1955     
there were more than 500 Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the country.     
In 1935, Katharine suffered a severe heart attack, and for the next twenty years     
she lived in retirement. She died on March 3, 1955, at the age of 96 at St.         
Elizabeth Convent in Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania.