St. Katharine Drexel

Artist: 
Julie Lonneman

Artist's Narrative:
Heiress and socialite Katharine Drexel shocked Philadelphia by choosing religious life, vowing “to be the mother and servant of the Indian and Negro races.” Building on her family's tradition of philanthropy, she eventually spent millions of her fortune for the benefit of others.

She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891. By 1942 she had created a system of African-American Catholic schools in 13 states, 40 mission centers, 23 rural schools, 50 Native American missions, and Xavier University in New Orleans, the first university for African-Americans in the United States. Segregationists bitterly opposed her work.

Katharine suffered a serious heart attack in 1935 and cheerfully spent the last 20 years of her life in the practice of contemplative prayer.

United States, 1858-1955.

Her feast day is March 3.

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