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February 28, 2008


The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament announce that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has granted the designation of National Shrine to the Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel located in Bensalem, PA. The request for National Shrine designation was initiated by Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, in March 2007.

The National Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel is the seventh National Catholic Shrine in Pennsylvania, and 27th in the U.S., according to the USCCB.

``It was with great pleasure that I received the news that the Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel has been elevated in status to a National Shrine,'' said Cardinal Rigali. ``This designation is especially gratifying because Mother Katharine's love of the Holy Eucharist and care for God's poor and oppressed was formed in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I pray that the honor bestowed upon the shrine will open opportunities for others to hear God's Word and reflect upon Saint Katharine's message of love and service to all.''

Saint Katharine's life was devoted to the Holy Eucharist and to serving the poor and socially oppressed among Native and African Americans. Pope John Paul II beatified her on Nov. 20, 1988 and almost 12 years later, aided by the 1994 healing of a young deaf girl accepted as attributable to miraculous intercession, on Oct.1, 2000 the Holy Father canonized her as Saint Katharine Drexel. Mother Drexel built the Shrine in 1893, two years after founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS). The Sisters have faithfully continued her work for Eucharistic social justice, though her financial resources have long been depleted. The Order has schools and missions in 11 states and in Haiti. Saint Katharine spent the final 20 years of her life in prayer and reflection at the SBS mother house in Bensalem, located just outside Philadelphia. Her body is entombed under the main altar of Saint Elizabeth Chapel.
"As Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, we take great pride in the recognition of the shrine of our foundress, Saint Katharine Drexel,'' said Sister Patricia Suchalski, president of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. ``The focus on the Eucharist and the Gospel message of justice is one that flows directly from the heart of our saint, Katharine Drexel. We invite all to experience with us the beauty and power of this Gospel message at the National Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel.''

Each year, approximately 20,000 pilgrims visit the historic Mission Center and Shrine to pray, hold retreats and learn about the life of Saint Katharine Drexel in a peaceful, spiritual environment. The Mission Center was dedicated in 2003. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament offer programs in spirituality, justice issues, environmental responsibility, Eucharistic theology, and liturgy, etc.

Cardinal Rigali will celebrate Mass for the Feast of Saint Katharine Drexel on Monday, March 3 at noon in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. On Sunday, March 2, a Mass for former altar boys who served at the Shrine will be celebrated at 10 a.m. in the Shrine's Saint Elizabeth Chapel. The Shrine is located at 1663 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, PA, Bucks County.

More information about the life of Saint Katharine Drexel and the National Shrine can be found at

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Kevin Mulligan
Associate Director

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