Enslaved in North Africa

Katharine Drexel was born in Philadelphia on November 26, 1858, the second child of a rich banker, Francis Anthony Drexel, and his wife, Hannah Langstroth.

Katharine’s mother died when she was five weeks old. Two years later her father remarried. With his new wife, Emma Bouvier, he had another daughter, Louisa. The girls were the beneficiaries of a brilliant education, travelling across Europe and the United States.

The Drexels were devout and practised spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Katharine grew up seeing her father spend 30 minutes in prayer everyday and her stepmother opening their house every week to look after the poor.

After watching her stepmother suffer from terminal cancer, Katharine’s outlook began to change and she developed a strong love for God and neighbour. She took a particular interest in the wellbeing of African-Americans and Native Americans.

Enslaved in North Africa

When Katharine’s father died in 1885 he donated some of his $15.5 million estate to charity and left the remainder to his daughters. One of their first acts was to donate money to assist the St Francis Mission of South Dakota’s Rosebud Reservation.

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