Katharine Drexel Portrait

Katharine Drexel Portrait

The sacred remains of Saint Katharine Drexel (1858– 1955), a member of the Drexel family who gave up a life of luxury to dedicate herself to the Roman Catholic Church, were brought back to a new resting place at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia in fall 2018.

The University has long celebrated its connection to Katharine. The second American-born person to become a saint, Katharine was the beloved niece of Drexel founder Anthony J. Drexel.

During her long life, Katharine created and supported schools for Native Americans and African Americans, spending an estimated $20 million and 60 years of her life building dozens of educational institutions as well as over 100 missions and churches. She shared the same enthusiasm for creating educational opportunities as her “Uncle Tony.”

“They had the same determination and sense that education was critical,” says Cordelia Biddle, a member of the Drexel family and author of “Saint Katharine: The Life of Katharine Drexel.”

After her death in 1955, Katherine’s sacred remains were housed in a shrine at the motherhouse of the Catholic order she had founded. In 2016, the order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, announced the sale of the Bensalem property, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia subsequently created a shrine for her in Philadelphia, where it can be more easily visited by people for prayers.