Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 16 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Giuseppe Antonio Tovini
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

This pioneer woman gave up millions to become a nun


Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 03/03/20

A newspaper headline read, "Miss Drexel Enters a Catholic Convent—Gives Up Seven Million" dollars.

St. Katharine Drexel was a true pioneer woman in many ways. She blazed a trail west, ministering to the Native Americans and African Americans so severely treated by much of the population. By the end of her life she’d established well over 100 missions, 50 schools for African American children and 12 schools for Native Americans.

Prior to that, her wealthy father, Philadelphia banker and philanthropist Francis Drexel, died in 1885. He had amassed roughly $15 million in his estate and distributed it to his children after his death.

Katharine Drexel could have accepted a marriage proposal and lived comfortably for the rest of her life, living off the millions of dollars she received from her father. Instead she gave it all up, became a poor religious and used the inheritance to establish schools and missions in the “Wild West.” It was a shock to many at the time, and even Philadelphia newspapers reported it, using the headline, “Miss Drexel Enters a Catholic Convent—Gives Up Seven Million.”

She could have been a spoiled little rich girl, but instead spent her life in service to the poor.

Learn More about St. Katharine Drexel:


Read more:
That time when the KKK was defeated by a nun


Read more:
What St. Katharine Drexel can teach us about the benefits of generosity

SaintsSaints of the United States
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Why God loves ordinary stuff: Pope Francis' r...
POPE FRANCIS; Ash Wednesday
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Vatican: Imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday...
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the family of 12 siblings with a very sp...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.