Many years ago there lived in Philadelphia a wealthy banker by the name of Francis Anthony Drexel. He was blessed not only with wealth, but also with a pious wife and three virtuous daughters. The parents instilled in their children a deep love of God and of neighbor, encouraging their children to every work of charity. As a result, one daughter, Elizabeth Drexel, became deeply interested in the poor boys of Philadelphia. Today St. Francis Industrial School at
Eddington, Pennsylvania, is a monument to her zeal and generosity. Another daughter, Louisa Drexel, became interested in the negro missions. A third daughter, Katherine Drexel, selected as the object of her charity, work among the first Americans, the Indians.
In his will the father left one tenth of his entire estate, $1,500,000, to charity. About that time Katherine visited the Holy Father. Eloquently she told of her interest in the Indian Missions. The Pope said to her:
"Daughter, why not become a missionary yourself; become a nun and work among them."
Katherine gave up the luxury of their palatial parental home, consulted her confessor, and shortly thereafter became a novice with the Sisters of Mercy in order to begin a new community that was to labor among the children of the forest and the plain. Later her interest extended to the negroes.
Today her spiritual daughters, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, are doing heroic work. Their generosity and zeal know no bounds. Mother Katherine not only supports her own schools but many others. This woman, born to luxury and wealth, sacrificed everything to work for the salvation of souls. She became the mother of a group of modern apostles who carry on the work begun by Christ's chosen twelve.
That work was also done by Mary, the Mother of Jesus. For many reasons we can call our Blessed Mother, Queen of Apostles. On the Saturday after the feast of the Ascension, Mother Church celebrates the feast of Mary, Queen of the Apostles.
1. It is true we cannot call Mary an apostle in the strict sense, in the official sense that she was a priest. In general an apostle means anyone who is sent forth on a mission. It means someone appointed, as was St. Patrick for Ireland, and St. Francis Xavier for the Indies. The twelve whom Christ chose, together with St. Paul, were the official apostles, given grace, given jurisdiction, and endowed with a personal infallibility in regard to faith and morals. Nevertheless, we do speak of Mary as the Queen of the Apostles because she was accepted by them as their queen.
2. The apostles understood better than anyone else the great privileges of Mary. They realized her sanctity; they recognized her virtues; they knew how she had cooperated in the work of redemption; they knew how Jesus loved her. During the public life of Christ they were closely associated with the Blessed Mother. They were with her through the suffering of our Lord. With Mary they persevered in prayer in the upper room, waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. During this long association, even before the death and resurrection of Jesus, the apostles came to know her as their Queen and Mother.
3. The apostles found in the Blessed Virgin, after God, their greatest inspiration. She was still their link with the Lord, after His ascension. Christ had gone to His Father, but He left His Mother with them. We might ask why? Because she was still needed on earth. Our title, Queen of Apostles, tells us why.
4. Mary is also the Mother of Good Counsel. In fact she was the spouse of the Holy Spirit. As such she was the particular adviser of the apostles. That was an outstanding task when you realize the importance of the work of the apostles. They were chosen by Christ Himself, sanctified by Christ, confirmed in grace by our Lord and even told that they would be associated with Him in the judgment. Often the apostles came to Mary for advice and counsel; she told them the path to take, what plan to pursue. Closely associated with Wisdom Herself—our Lord, Mary could share that wisdom with those who were doing the work of her Son.
5. A great measure of the success of the apostles was due to the prayers of the Mother of God. She was Mother of the Infant Christ; she was Mother of the infant Church. God heard her prayer for the conversion of individuals, regions and nations.
6. Mary was an apostle to the apostles i n the sense that the wisdom and knowledge God gave her made her a greater teacher than any of the twelve. What might have happened if Mary herself had gone about the world preaching the words of her Son? She would have converted the world. But that was not God's plan. She was to stay in the background and inspire the apostles.
7. Mary is Queen of the Apostles in another sense. The apostles were zealous but they had their defects. They sometimes showed lack of courage, faith, humility and meekness. Mary, on the contrary, had every virtue in perfection, especially those of the true missionary—zeal and the spirit of sacrifice.
We need the example and inspiration of Mary to convert the world. We need her virtues to win the world to her Son. Thank God, our missionaries, our modern apostles, our priests and sisters and brothers, and lay people in the missions, take her for their model. Mother Katherine Drexel is an example of an up-to-date, modern apostle finding her inspiration in Mary, Queen of the Apostles. Amen.
Source: Feasts of Our Lady, Imprimatur 1952
A coloring picture can be found below: