Submitted by Jan Judge on September 20th, 2005
Do you have a special Saint that you connect with? I do. It is St. Katharine Drexel. From my first visit to her shrine, we connected. Many people do not believe in the power of divine intervention. I myself may have been one of those people. It may not be that you don’t believe but that you just do not take the time to listen or look. It is amazing that when you do take the time, you do hear and see things given from above.
I am a 48-year-old who was in excellent health until 1999. I developed an upper respiratory infection, which turned into severe sudden onset of adult asthma. I was treated with large doses of prednisone over a year-long period. This caused me to develop a rare chronic disease – pituitary-adrenal gland insufficiency or secondary Addison’s disease. The occurrence is 1 out of 100,000. President Kennedy also had this disease.
My first visit to the shrine was over one year ago. I came in a wheelchair with my two cousins. A black woman opened the door for us. We first prayed at St. Katharine’s casket. I then went over to the table on the left and started to fill out names on the request form to put in the basket next to the casket. As I was writing, the same distinguished black woman approached me with a book in her hand. It turned out to be the Bible. She said she was sent there that day to find me. I immediately became very nervous. Why would someone be sent to see me; a nobody? She took me back to the rotunda and we spoke. She told me that I would never be rid of my illness until I lost my anger. She opened the Bible on the small table there and had me read Psalm 102; Prayer in Time of Distress and Psalm 103; Praise of Divine Goodness. After I read them, she talked about preaching about the evils of prejudice. We hugged and then she walked behind the pillar and disappeared. My cousins were looking for me and saw me sitting with the lady who opened the door for us. After she walked away from me we looked all over for this woman after she left me and none of us saw her leave or saw her again. I truly believe that she was an angel sent to me from St. Katharine.
I have gone back to the shrine multiple times to pray for different things. I find much peace there. Those times, nothing that dramatic happened but small coincidences that my friend and I cannot explain happen each time we visit. I had the privilege to attend a celebration of the 3rd anniversary of her canonization.
I visited the shrine in July of this year before I underwent hip replacement surgery. I sat in the chair directly across from St. Katharine’s picture. I spoke to her for a long time and it seemed that she was intently looking into my eyes and listening. At this visit, I requested prayers for an individual who has been ill for several years and did not have a diagnosis. The day after I visited the shrine, the doctors finally gave her a diagnosis. I implored St. Katharine’s help and peace for my surgery. I have multiple medical problems and the doctors were leery that things may not go smoothly. I had a drop foot from my medical condition. My surgeon made sure I knew that the hip replacement surgery would not fix the foot. I am also in the medical profession and knew there was no connection between the drop foot and hip surgery. The surgery went extremely well. All the doctors were amazed at my recovery. Four weeks after the surgery, my drop foot was gone. It did not happen gradually, but the strength and range of motion came back in one day. I had worn a brace on that foot for two years. The surgeon was amazed. He said that he has never seen that happen before.
I visited the shrine again last week to give thanks for the success of my surgery and to pray for people close to me who were having a difficult time. One person was in deep dismay over a medical problem. The day after my visit, she got some encouraging news on her predicament. Before I left the shrine that day, I wanted to sit in the chair across from St. Katharine’s picture but one of the volunteers was already seated there. I decided to sit on one of the benches to the right of the chair. As I prayed and looked at St. Katharine’s picture, I could attest that the picture was now looking directly at me. My mom sat down on my right side and asked me if I knew that the picture was looking right at me.
Also remarkable and unexplainable, except through the gift of St. Katharine is the story with my son. He has a terrible anger problem. I prayed to St. Katharine that she would keep my son safe. She granted me that request. He decided to enroll at Drexel University. He was accepted there and earned an academic scholarship. Drexel University was built with the Drexel fortune. I can only believe that St. Katharine wanted my son at Drexel so she could keep a better eye on him.
I truly believe that St. Katharine has intervened in my life. I pray for an open mind to do the work that she wants me to do. I will end with a saying that was repeated at the canonization anniversary by Sister Rogers. “Have a Blessed Day.”