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March 3
St. Katherine Drexel

St. Katherine Drexel

Again, my apologies for the sporadic posting.  My wife’s aunt just recently was inducted into the company of the saints so things have been busy.

Today (even though it is Lent) is the Memorial of St. Katherine Drexel.  Katherine is one of my favorites because she is one of our own.  She is an American saint!

Born in 1858 to a wealthy Philadelphia family (ever heard of Drexel Bros. Investment Firm or Drexel University?), Katherine, like so many other saints, had a love of Christ at an early age.  What set her apart was that, as she entered adulthood, she also had inherited a vast fortune which she could use to further her love for Our Blessed Lord.  So here’s how she spent it (her time and fortune)…

  • She traveled the length and breadth of the land establishing missionary outposts, schools, and churches in communities of predominantly unaffected people.  By this I mean that Katherine reached out to Black Catholics and to the Indian peoples.  In this task she founded several well known colleges including Xavier in New Orleans.
  • She established (founded) a religious order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to promote Eucharistic devotion and draw strength from our Eucharistic Lord in her task.

Statue of a life scene found at the shrine in Philadelphia

One day, after touring her shrine just northeast of Philadelphia, I stepped into the gift shop.  I always say that a shrine’s crowning jewel is her gift shop.  Go with me on this one.  If they’re selling old crap, then move on.  File that saint under “lesser causes”.  But if they’re selling Ignatius Press DVD’s and Fulton Sheen coffee table books alongside their coffee mugs and pens then take out your phone and mark it on iMaps.  The gift shop at the Drexel shrine was somewhere in between.  True to the order’s mission there were some beautiful Native American bead work items and some exquisite prints of Mother Drexel and her work.  Then I spotted it.  It was a Philadelphia Phillies ball cap.  I am a New York Mets fan.  After doing the math in my head (she died in 1955 and so it is entirely possible she had a love for the city’s NL franchise) I asked the old nun behind the counter “Was Mother a Phil’s fan?”  Yoda looked up from her abacus, brushed aside a wisp of hair, straightened her monocle and said: “Mother loved all things Philadelphia.”  By the way, I was accompanied that afternoon by my sister and co-blogger Bridget@le.Rheims, her husband, and their firstborn son.

I guess I’ll just how to defer to John Paul II on this one since he canonized her.  Otherwise I’d have my doubts.  Nevertheless, here’s to Katherine Drexel — saint of our time and our land and our people.  You go, girl!

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