National Shrine of
Saint Katharine Drexel
The Shrine area, which holds the entombed remains of Saint Katharine Drexel, was built in 1949. Mother Katharine was laid to rest after her death on March 3, 1955. The walls are made of Brier Hill stone and the floor is flagstone. The bas relief of the angels above the tomb was designed by Mother Mary of the Visitation, SBS, and Kathleen Dorsey.
The Katharine Drexel story is told through an exciting collection of artifacts which include her unusual wheel chair that gave her much comfort as she was piloted around her room and in the corridors. Beautifully designed and colorful woolen-woven rugs were given to her by her Navajo friends from Arizona, who loved her as a Mother. There is a seven minute video which makes Saint Katharine Drexel’s life come alive. Pilgrims can pray, reflect and leave written intentions in the Apache Burden Basket located next to Saint Katharine’s crypt. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament pray daily for these intentions.
A short video explaining St. Katharine’s life is available for viewing in a separate room near the crypt.
MIRACLES leading up to Katharine’s Canonization:
In February of 1974, ninth-grader Robert Gutherman had a throbbing ear ache. Medicine failed to alleviate the condition. Robert’s mother brought him to Katharine Drexel’s tomb to pray. In March, Robert was admitted to St. Christopher’s Hospital for surgery on his right ear. The doctor’s discovered that of the three small bones normally in the ear canal, Robert had only one. The infection had destroyed the other two and perforated the ear drum. It was determined he would never be able to hear. Another surgery to repair the ear drum was planned.
Meanwhile, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament had been praying daily with Robert and his mother. After dismissal from the hospital, Robert went for a checkup. During this checkup in September 1974, the doctor realized that he had a perfect eardrum and normal hearing when tested. Fourteen years later, in 1988, Robert’s healing was accepted as the first miracle of Saint Katharine Drexel.
In August 1993, while still a baby, Amy Wall could barely hear a loud speaking voice. Tubes were placed in both ears to determine if fluid buildup caused her deafness. Almost no fluid was found. In September, more precise tests were completed at St. Christopher’s Hospital. She could barely hear shouting. In November, after watching a TV special about Robert Gutherman’s healing through the intercession of Mother Katharine, Amy’s mother obtained a second class relic of Blessed Katharine from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She pressed it to Amy’s ear. The Wall family began praying to Katharine Drexel for a miracle. Amy began attending Katzenbach School for the Deaf in Trenton, N.J. In March of 1994, a preschool teacher at Amy’s school saw dramatic changes in Amy’s response to sound. Tests showed that Amy could hear normally in both ears. In the year 2000, Amy Wall’s healing was accepted as the second miracle of St. Katharine Drexel.