St Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be canonized a saint. She grew up in a Mohawk tribe, contracted smallpox as a young girl, and converted to the Catholic Faith at age 19. She is known as the Lily of the Mohawks.
Who Was Saint Kateri Tekakwitha?
St Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be canonized a saint. She grew up in a Mohawk tribe, contracted smallpox as a young girl, and converted to the Catholic Faith at age 19. She is known as the Lily of the Mohawks. Pray this novena for fostering ecology, for those in exile, and for Native Americans.
Kateri, the Mohawk form of Catherine, after St Catherine of Siena, was born in 1656 in a Mohawk village.
Her mother was of the Algonquin tribe but was captured by the Mohawks, and she eventually married a Mohawk chieftain.
Kateri and her whole family got sick with smallpox when she was just four years old.
The disease left permanent scars on her skin and caused great embarrassment for her in her youth. Her entire immediate family succumbed to the smallpox, leaving Kateri in the care of her uncle.
Kateri’s extended family tried setting her up for marriage, but she steadfastly refused. Eventually they gave up the effort.
When she was 19 years old, Kateri Tekakwitha converted to the Catholic Church.
She took the evangelical counsel of chastity, the vow that religious sisters and brothers make, and committed herself to be Christ’s bride.
Her extended family and tribe did not understand this decision and grew angry at her. Kateri decided to leave the tribe and take refuge in a group of Native American Christians located near Montreal.
The Jesuit priests who were missionaries to the Mohawks related that Kateri would give herself penances like putting thorns on her bed, fasting often for the conversion of the Mohawks, and even burning herself.
Kateri’s health was never strong, and at age 24, she became sick and died. This was on April 17th, 1680.
St Kateri Tekakwitha was beatified by Pope St John Paul II and then canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21st, 2012.
She is the patron saint of ecology, Native Americans, the environment, and people in exile.