The Meeting of Mother Katharine and Mother Cabrini

Mother Drexel and Mother Cabrini

Today we honor St. Katharine Drexel, an extraordinary woman who served Native Americans and minorities across the United States. She and Mother Cabrini had two things in common: a deep love of Jesus, and a calling to serve the poor and marginalized.

The Role of Leo XIII

Both Mother Drexel and Mother Cabrini had pivotal meetings with Pope Leo XIII. When she met with the pontiff in 1887, Katharine Drexel — at the time a. young socialite doing the grand tour of Europe — begged Leo XIII to do more for poor Native and African Americans. Leo XIII challenged her to become a missionary to them herself, which she did.

Mother Cabrini’s meeting with Leo XIII took place the following year. It was with his blessing that she should go “Not to the east, but to the west” that brought her to the Americas.

The Meeting of the Saints

We don’t know exactly when Mother Katharine and Mother Cabrini first crossed paths. But in 1906, Mother Katharine, frustrated by her inability to the Rule of her order approved by Rome, sat down on a bench with Mother Cabrini in the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to seek her advice.

According to Paolo Molinari, author of Saints: Their Place in the Church, Mother Cabrini explained the situation this way:

You see, it is like this. You get a lot of mail every day. Some of it you must take care of immediately. Other items are important but you put them on the shelf to take care of tomorrow. Then tomorrow, something else demanding attention comes in a

nd you leave the other letter still on the shelf. Before you know it, there are a lot of other items before it. It is like that in Rome.”

Mother Cabrini then advised Mother Katharine that if she wanted her Rule approved, she needed to go to Rome herself and stay until the task was complete.

St. Katharine Drexel, patron of racial justice, pray for us.


© 2015 St. Frances Cabrini Shrine.