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St Kateri Tekakwitha

Statue Kateri Tekakwitha, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, NMToday the Church in the USA liturgically remember one of her own, Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American woman proposed for canonization. In fact, she is the fourth Native American person to be venerated by the Church. Saint Juan Diego and two other Oaxacan Indians are indigenous peoples accorded the honor of religious veneration.

Kateri Tekakwitha was the daughter of a Christian Algonquin woman captured by Iroquois and married to a non-Christian Mohawk chief. Kateri was orphaned during a smallpox epidemic, which left her with a scarred face and impaired eyesight. She converted and was baptized in 1676 by Jesuit Father Jacques de Lamberville. As a convert at  nineteen, she was renamed Kateri, baptized to honor the great saint,  Catherine of Siena.

Her biography reveals that Kateri was shunned and abused by relatives for her faith who witheld food from her on Sundays and stoned her when she entered the chapel, Kateri then escaped through 200 miles of wilderness to the Christian Native American village of Sault-Sainte-Marie (near Montreal).

As a young girl, Kateri took a vow of chastity in 1679 and held a spirituality and austere lifestyle. Hers was a life of prayer, mortification and works of charity. Tekakwitha’s notable value for chastity, she is often referred to as a lily, (Lily of the Mohwaks) a traditional symbol of purity.

He final words were, “Jesus, Mary, I love you!” After he death her grave became a pilgrimage site and place of miracles for Christian Native Americans and French colonists.

Our saint’s tomb reads: Kateri Tekakwitha -Ownkeonweke Katsitsiio Teonsitsianekaron- The fairest flower that ever bloomed among red people.

As a friend said, may she “who sees through difficulty” intercede for us.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

 

 

 

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

The Church, through the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI, canonized the first Native American woman today. The Church made an infallible statement in proclaiming before the world that Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1677), from the Mohawk Indian tribe,

Kateri Tekakwitha

Kateri Tekakwitha (Photo: razzumitos)

 is in fact with God, a saint. Also canonized was Marianne Cope.

Hers was a common Catholic spirituality. Her way of living the Christian life is what is expected of all the baptized is the clearest link to Christ for us today. Saint Kateri was known to be a contemplative; a woman concerned to live the virtuous life; faithful to the Truth she received through Baptism and nourished by the reception of Confession and Holy Communion. Saint Kateri was recognized to be close to Jesus, a fact that was only possible because she spent time with the Eucharistic Lord in Adoration of the Blessed. Further, she was never without the Rosary. And she fasted for her own sins and the sins of her people. Penance was not uncommon to Saint Kateri.
At her intercession, God healed a boy from Washington state who had acquired a flesh eating bacteria. This was the miracle that allowed the Church to discern Kateri’s sanctity. On December 19, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the validity of the Congregation for Saints’ findings. Curious to note, Pope John Paul II didn’t require a miracle for Kateri to be beatified.
As a subtle point of clarification, in the Americas, Saint Juan Diego is the first Native person to be canonized and Kateri is the second. The current thinking is that in the USA, Kateri is the first Native person raised to the altars.
The National Shrine is in Fonda, NY.
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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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