Biography of Potential Saint Mother Katherine

About the potential saint Mother Katherine, biography and history of the American religious figure.


Cause. Born into a wealthy family, the grand-daughter of Francis Martin Drexel, founder of a Philadelphia banking house, she outlived all her relatives, inheriting the family fortune. She made a pilgrimage to Rome and spoke to the Pope of the virtual abandonment of the Negroes and Indians in America. He answered her, saying, "Why not become a missionary yourself, my child?"

She did, founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. With her inheritance she built and maintained missions for the Southern Negroes and the Indians of the Southwest, established Xavier University in New Orleans, La., and set up 49 foundations throughout the Northeast.

Devil's Advocate. Though she sought to make up for it later, her rich, sheltered life as a child, including being educated at home by private governesses, is a stumbling block to her canonization.

Nomination. The drive for her canonization is moving smoothly. Father Litz, who is also handling Bishop Neumann's cause, said that the latest word is that her writings have been declared to be "without fault in faith or morals."

Present Stage. Because of the decision on her writings, the next step--the declaring of Mother Drexel as being heroic in virtue, thus winning for her the title of "Venerable"--is "on its way," according to Father Litz.

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