The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament is a Roman Catholic order of nuns. It was founded in 1891 by Saint Katharine Drexel under the name Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. It is a Catholic religious institute.

Crypt for "Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People" in Saint Louis Cemetery #3, New Orleans.


The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884), which at the time was the meeting of all Roman Catholic bishops in the United States, renewed the vigor for missionary work among the "Colored and Indian races". Archbishop James O'Connor of Omaha, acting alongside Katharine Drexel, decided, with the approval of Archbishop P. J. Ryan of Philadelphia, to form a new congregation on behalf of Native Americans and African Americans. For some years previous to this step, Miss Drexel had been very active in re-establishing and supporting schools in many of the Indian reservations.[1]

The first sisters, including foundress Katharine Drexel, entered religious life under the tutelage of the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were also inspired by O'Connor, who served as Drexel's spiritual director until his death. In 1889, after completing a two-year novitiate to learn the foundations of religious life and upon first profession of vows, these sisters were clothed in the habit of the new congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament of the Indians and Colored People. Mother Katharine Drexel (now Saint Katharine Drexel) was installed as superior.[1]

After this, they continued their period of preparation in the old Drexel homestead, in Torresdale, Philadelphia. Early in 1892 a mother-house and novitiate were opened at Cornwells Heights, Pennsylvania, adjoining which was erected a manual training and boarding school for African-American boys and girls.[1] In June 1894, four sisters set out for Santa Fe, New Mexico to reopen St. Catherine Indian School.[2]

Since then, the sisters have staffed a number of Catholic schools for Native American and African American children, which involved collaboration with the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, the Commission for the Catholic Missions among the Colored People and the Indians and other Catholic institutions. Since its founding, the order has been headquartered at St. Elizabeth's Convent in Cornwells Heights, Pennsylvania.[3] Saint Katharine was entombed in a crypt in the chapel until the entire crypte was moved to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.[4] The Cornwells Heights location is currently made up of the motherhouse of retired nuns and the location of Saint Katharine Drexel Mission Center and National Shrine. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[5]

As of 2018, there were about 100 Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, more than half of whom are retired.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Mercedes, Sister. "Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 13 August 2019Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "Timeline", Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
  3. ^ ""National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania"" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes Sr. Mary Ellen Quilty and Sr. Elise Sisson with Charles Cromartie (July 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: St. Elizabeth's Convent" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29.
  4. ^ Babay, Emily; O'Reilly, David (May 4, 2016). "Bensalem shrine to St. Katharine Drexel to be sold". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  6. ^ Stockman, Dan. "St. Katharine Drexel's order advances property sale plan", Global Sisters Report, February 15, 2018

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.