Tomb of Saint Katharine Drexel at the Cathedral Basilica
Location of the Shrine Inside the Cathedral
(Location of tomb of Saint Katharine Drexel indicated by star).
The Shrine to Saint Katharine Drexel is located immediately to the left of the main entrance as you face the front altar.
This altar was dedicated in 2009 and was especially challenging to complete because the marble statue had to be based on the true likeness of Saint Katharine. It was especially important that the original altar be retained because it was donated in the 19th century by Saint Katharine herself, along with her sisters, Elizabeth and Louise, as a memorial to their deceased parents, Francis and Emma Drexel. The Tomb of Saint Katharine is directly to the left. Her sacred remains were translated to the Cathedral Basilica on August 2, 2018. The new tomb was solemnly installed on November 18, 2018.
Designating the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul and the Shrine of Saint Katharine 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.
Saint Katharine Drexel: The Holy Heiress
Articles from Mission Magazine, a publication of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
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.
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.