Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was born around 1656 in the village of Ossenernon, now Auriesville in the State of New York, the daughter of a Mohawk father and an Algonquian mother; she was a Christian. At the age of four, she lost her entire family (father, mother, and younger brother) to a smallpox epidemic; she survived but with a disfigured face and vision problems.
She has lived with an uncle’s family, moving to various settlements, up to that of Caughnawaga or Kahnawake, in the present territory of Canada. One of the possible meanings of the name given to her, Tekakwitha, is “she who puts things in order” and would therefore refer to her ability in manual work or, about her impediments in sight, “she who walks, making her way.”
In 1675 some French Jesuits, missionaries in Canada, came to her village. Their stories fascinated her enough to lead her to refuse various marriage proposals, an unusual fact for the customs of her people. On April 16, 1676, she received her Baptism: her Christian name was Caterina or Kateri in the Iroquois language. Her uncle didn’t object as long as she didn’t leave the village.
Biography of Saint Kateri Tekawitha
|Full name:||Kateri Tekakwitha|
|Date of birth:||1656 AD|
|Year of death:||17 April, 1680 AD|
|Place of birth:||New York, United States|
|Mother's name:||Kenneronkwa Tekakwitha|
|Father's name:||Tagaskouita Tekakwitha|
|Death cause:||Christian Virgin Martyrdom|
Representation of Saint Kateri
History of Saint Kateri Tekawitha
When the persecution and hostility of her relatives and members seemed unbearable, she was helped to escape to the mission of St. Francis Xavier in Sault St-Louis, now in Canadian territory. Saint Kateri spent the rest of her life working, mortifying, and praying for a long time both in the village chapel and the woods. She received her First Communion on Christmas 1677, while on March 25, 1679, she publicly and solemnly consecrated her virginity to God.
She died on April 17, 1680, at about twenty-four, following his last painful illness, which she accepted with joy. Because of her attachment to Jesus as the only Spouse, she became known as “the lily of the Mohawks.” She was beatified by Saint John Paul II on June 22, 1980, and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 20122.
Saint Kateri was the first Native American to be declared a saint. Her mortal remains are venerated in the shrine dedicated to her in Caughnawaga. Her liturgical memory occurs on April 17, the day of her birth into Heaven. She was the first Native American to be declared a saint.
Saint Kateri in the Roman martyrology
In Sault in Québec in, Canada, blessed saint Kateri Tekakwitha is a virgin, who was born among the native Indians of the place, was baptized on Easter day, and, although persecuted by many threats and harassment, offered God that purity that when she had not yet become a Christian she had already committed herself to preserve.
When she had to leave the hut to go for wood in the forest or to draw water from the nearby spring, she wrapped herself in a large crimson shawl to shield her sick eyes from the bright sunlight. During the hours of rest, she paid the company of her aunts and an adoptive sister; she made small household utensils with the fibers of the roots or the bark of the trees. Being highly sought after, they represented a significant source of income for the host family.
Later she will learn to transform the skin of the moose and buffalo into pretty handbags and to arabesque the fabulous scarves of warriors and hunters with a hundred designs. With her life and prayers for us, Saint Kateri invites us, with the Virgin Mary, to look to Christ on the Cross and find all our happiness in him.
Process of canonization
The canonization process of Saint Kateri began in 1884, following the miraculous healing of a case of facial ringworm. On January 3, 1943, she was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII and later said blessed on June 22, 1980, by Pope John Paul II.
Saint Katerine was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 October 2012. She is the first Native American to receive these honors. Her adoration is particularly widespread among the Catholic natives of North America.
Saint Kateri invites us to be one with Christ on Calvary through our participation in the Holy Eucharist, to be one with Christ in the outpouring of her life in the love of God and neighbor.
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The relics of the Indian virgin, Saint Kateri, placed in an ebony box, have been kept by the Jesuit Fathers in Caughnawaga, in the diocese of Albany, since 1719. Pius XII recognized her heroic virtues on January 3, 1943, and John Paul II beatified her on June 22, 1980.
Following the recognition of a miracle, after the dispensation had been granted for the beatification of the two then requested, based on a solid and proven existence of the fame of miracles, Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized on 20 October 2012 in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, by Pope Benedict XVI; she was the first Native American to be declared a saint.