March 2015 - St. Katharine Drexel and St. Margaret Clitherow

Left: St. Katharine Drexel. Photo: CNS/Courtesy Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Right: St. Margaret Clitherow. Photo: CNS Left: St. Katharine Drexel. Photo: CNS/Courtesy Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Right: St. Margaret Clitherow. Photo: CNS

St. Katharine Drexel

American heiress ministered to people of color

1858–1955
Feast day: March 3

The daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia banker, Katharine received marriage proposals but wanted to become a contemplative nun. After inheriting a fortune, she visited the Dakotas and witnessed American Indians’ poverty, subsequently pleading with Pope Leo XIII to send them more missionaries. But he and others encouraged her to found a congregation to work among people of color. In 1891, she and 13 companions became the first Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. For more than 40 years, she led the order, using her fortune to establish numerous missions and schools for Indians and African Americans. Following a major heart attack in 1935, she retired to a life of prayer. Canonized in 2000, she is the patron of home missions.

St. Margaret Clitherow

Underground Catholic was crushed to death

c. 1553–1586
Feast day: March 26

Born into a prosperous York Protestant family when Catholicism was forbidden, Margaret married wealthy Protestant John Clitherow, whose brother became a Catholic priest. Margaret soon became a Catholic and set up Mass centers in her home and a nearby inn. She was imprisoned three times for failing to attend Protestant services. When officials confirmed the secret Masses, Margaret was sentenced to death for treason. She died a martyr, pressed to death by a heavy load.

Northwest Catholic - March 2015