Tomb of Saint Katharine Drexel at the Cathedral Basilica
Designating the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul and the Shrine of Saint Katherine Drexel as an Archdiocesan Shrine
The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, located at 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was begun by Bishop Francis Kendrick on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 1846. The cathedral was dedicated and solemnly blessed by Bishop James Wood on November 20, 1864. On September 27, 1976, the Cathedral was designated a Minor Basilica by Pope Saint Paul VI.
Canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II on October 1, 2000, Saint Katharine Drexel is the second American born person ever to be canonized. Born into tremendous wealth as part of the Drexel family, she gave up her life of privilege to found the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891. She dedicated her life to serve the needs of African Americans and Native Americans, and inspired many women, who joined the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, to follow her example.
The Tomb of Saint Katharine Drexel at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia
July 24, 2018, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced the beginning of a period of prayer — preparing for the arrival of St. Katharine Drexel’s holy relics later in the year, and the start of preparations underway for St. Katharine’s body to be transferred to the Cathedral Basilica. The initial projected date for visitors to be able to visit her tomb again was sometime in September, however, things took a bit longer to accomplish than initially thought.
March 3, 2018 was a regular, scheduled mass at the Basilica Cathedral Saints Peter and Paul in downtown Philadelphia, however for the religious order of the Sisters she founded, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS), the ASBS (Associates of the SBS), and St. Katharine Drexel’s devotees, the mass was a special way to recognize the accomplishments of this great woman who worked tirelessly throughout her lifetime as “an apostle for social justice. Pastor and Rector of the Cathedral, Rev. Gerald Dennis Gill, spoke about St. Katharine’s missionary spirit in his welcome address. President of the SBS, Sr. Donna Breslin challenged attendees to live by the saint’s example to speak up for justice & human rights, and to continue her mission to assist the marginalized amongst them.