Walking Club - St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Updated: Jul 27, 2020
Feast Day: July 14
Patron: of the environment and ecology
Death: April 17, 1680 Beatified: Pope John Paul II Canonized: On 10/21/2012 by Pope Benedict XVI Author and Publisher - Catholic Online
St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be recognized as a saint by the Catholic
Church. She was born in 1656, in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon. Her mother was a catholic Algonquin. She was captured by the Mohawks and took a Mohawk chief for her husband.
Kateri contracted smallpox as a four-year-old child which scarred her skin and impaired her vision. The scars were a source of humiliation in her youth. She was commonly seen wearing a blanket to hide her face. Worse, her entire family died during the outbreak. Kateri Tekakwitha was subsequently raised by her uncle, who was the chief of a Mohawk clan. Kateri was known as a skilled worker, who was diligent and patient. However, she refused to marry. When her adoptive parents proposed a suitor to her, she refused to entertain the proposal. They punished her by giving her more work to do, but she did not give in. Instead, she remained quiet and diligent. Eventually they were forced to relent and accept that she had no interest in marriage.
At age 19, Kateri Tekakwitha converted to Catholicism, taking a vow of chastity and pledging to marry only Jesus Christ. Her decision was very unpopular with her adoptive parents and their neighbors. Some of her neighbors started rumors of sorcery. To avoid persecution, she traveled to a Christian native community south of Montreal.
According to legend, Kateri was very devout and would put thorns on her sleeping mat. She often prayed for the conversion of her fellow Mohawks. According to the Jesuit missionaries that served the community where Kateri lived, she often fasted and when she would eat, she would taint her food to diminish its flavor. On at least one occasion, she burned herself. Such self-mortification was common among the Mohawk.
Kateri was very devout and was known for her steadfast devotion. She was also very sickly. Her
practices of self-mortification and denial may not have helped her health. Sadly, just five years after her conversion to Catholicism, she became ill and passed away at age 24, on April 17, 1680. Upon her death, witnesses said that minutes later her scars vanished and her face appeared radiant and beautiful. Known for her virtue of chastity and mortification of the flesh, as well as being shunned by some of her tribe for her religious conversion to Catholicism, she is the fourth Native American to be venerated in the Catholic Church and the first to be canonized.
Her name, Kateri, is the Mohawk form of Catherine, which she took from St. Catherine of Siena.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 21, 2012. She is the patroness
of ecology and the environment, people in exile and Native Americans.
Saint Kateri Prayer
O Saint Kateri, Lily of the Mohawks,
Your love for Jesus,
so strong, so steadfast,
pray that we may become like you.
Your short and painful life
showed us your strength and humility.
Pray that we may become
forever humble like you.
Like the bright and shining stars at night,
we pray that your light
may forever shine down upon us,
giving light, hope, peacefulness
and serenity in our darkest moments.
Fill our hearts, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
with your same love for Jesus
and pray that we may have the strength and courage
to become one like you in Heaven.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
By: Harold Caldwell