St Kateri Tekawitha – 14 July
Daughter of a Christian Algonquin woman captured by Iroquois and married to a non-Christian Mohawk chief. Orphaned during a smallpox epidemic, which left her with a scarred face and impaired eyesight. Converted and baptized in 1676 by Father Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit missionary. Shunned and abused by relatives for her faith. Escaped through 200 miles of wilderness to the Christian Native American village of Sault-Sainte-Marie. Took a vow of chastity in 1679. Known for spirituality and austere lifestyle. Miracle worker. Her grave became a pilgrimage site and place of miracles for Christian Native Americans and French colonists. First Native American proposed for canonization, her cause was started in 1884 under Pope Leo XIII. The Tekakwitha Conference, an international association of Native American Catholics and those in ministry with them, was named for her.
- 1656 at Osserneon (Auriesville), modern New York, USA
- 17 April 1680 at Caughnawaga, Canada of natural causes
“Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in sixteen fifty-six to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity. Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we Entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!” – PopeBenedict XVI canonization homily for Saint Kateri