LITURGY OF THE DAY: TUESDAY March 3, 1998


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TUESDAY, March 3, 1998

Blessed Katharine Drexel

     The same year our Blessed Mother appeared at Lourdes in France Blessed Katherine Drexel was born across the sea in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After her mother died at childbirth, Katherine was well taken care of by her wealthy banking father who later remarried a loving stepmother who loved Katherine as well. Katherine was afforded the best education money could buy and traveled extensively. The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore solicited the rich to contribute to the missions serving the Indians and Blacks in America. Because of her family's wealth, Katherine became deeply involved in this ministry which took her all the way to the Vatican and a private audience with Pope Leo XIII who convinced her to become a missionary to these people herself. Spurred on by his encouragement she entered the Pittsburgh novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy and, after solemn profession, she founded her own religious congregation of nuns in 1891 - the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. That same year her family established the Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia. Katherine took notes and dedicated to educating the Blacks and Indians, founded Xavier University in New Orleans as an all-Black college in 1915. Katherine lived through six pontiffs from Pius IX to Pius XII and it is estimated that upon her death in 1955, she had donated over 12 million dollars toward the apostolate for Blacks and Indians. She was beatified in 1988 by Pope John Paul II who set her date for observance on March 3.

WEDNESDAY, March 4, 1998

Saint Casimir

     The patron saint of Poland was a saintly young prince named Saint Casimir. He was known for his virginal chastity and for truly living what he preached for the 26 years he lived on this earth. Born in 1458 into nobility, his mother Elizabeth of Austria raised him in the True Faith. At 13 he was elected King of Hungary in hopes of toppling the rival king Matthias Corvino. However, through Casimir's prayers, peace and compromise were reached and the Hungarians were reconciled with Corvino. This enabled Casimir to abdicate the throne and devote his life to prayer as he preferred over the life of royalty. Yet while his father was in Lithuania, Casimir was again promoted - this time to the office of regent in Poland. Though he preferred a more contemplative lifestyle, he accepted this office with dignity and despite his youth, showed wisdom beyond his years in administering with great prudence and virtue. Casimir nurtured a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, dedicating his life to her and turning down an offer of marriage to the daughter of the German Emperor Henry III. In 1843 Casimir was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Lithuania and shortly after that contracted the fatal disease of tuberculosis, passing on to his Heavenly reward on March 4, 1484 at the young age of 26 in the court of Grodno. Amid great grief and pomp the Polish people honored him, burying him under the altar in the Chapel of Our Lady in the castle of Vilna. He was canonized 37 years later in 1521 by Pope Leo X, but it wasn't until 1602 that the Poles and Lithuanians realized Casimir had been made a saint since the original bull never reached Poland since Leo's successor Pope Hadrian VI had assumed Leo X had sent it and therefore did not follow-up. As it were, Leo died before he could dispatch the original bull and it was lost in the shuffle. Once it was discovered, Pope Clement VIII took care of officially notifying the Polish people by reissuing the papal bull. Almost immediately the Polish King Sigismund III began erecting a chapel honoring Casimir in Vilna and it was completed by his successor King Wladislaus IV.