Katharine Drexel

Roman Catholic nun and saint
Born: Nov. 26, 1858
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pa

Born into a prominent banking family, Drexel learned from an early age about charity and service to the poor from her philanthropically minded parents. As a young woman she became interested in the plight of Native Americans, and following her father's death in 1885, she used her vast inheritance to fund mission schools in the American Southwest. Later, she also established educational institutions for African Americans, including Xavier University in New Orleans. She entered her novitiate in 1889, and after taking her final vows in 1891 she founded a new order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People, and continued to dedicate herself to founding and staffing schools for Native Americans and black Americans throughout the United States. At her death in 1955, there were some 500 sisters of her order at 65 sites in 21 states. Drexel was canonized by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 1, 2000, becoming the second native-born American saint.

Died: March 3, 1955