Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 of an Algonquin mother
and a Mohawk Chief in the Mohawk fortified village of
Canaouaga or Ossernenon (modern day Auriesville) in
upstate New York. When she was only 4 years old her
parents and brother died of smallpox. Kateri survived
the disease, but it left her face badly scarred and her
eyesight impaired. Because of her poor vision, Kateri was
named "Tekakwitha", which means "she who bumps into things".
Kateri was taken in by her uncle who was bitterly opposed to
When she was eight years old, Kateriís foster family, in
accordance with Iroquois custom, paired her with a young
boy who they expected she would marry. However, Kateri wanted
to dedicate her life to God. Her uncle distrusted the settlers
because of the way they treated the Indians and who were
responsible for introducing smallpox and other deadly diseases
into the Indian community.
When Kateri was ten, in 1666, a war party composed of French
soldiers and hostle Indians from Canada destroyed the Mohawk
strongholds on the south bank of the Mohawk, including Ossernenon.
The surviving Mohawks moved to the north side of the river and
built their fortified village about half a mile west of the
present village of Fonda. Kateri lived in Caughnawaga, for the
next ten years.
When Kateri was 18 years of age, she began instructions in the
Catholic Faith in secret. Her uncle finally relented and gave
his consent for Kateri to become a Christian, provided that she
did not try to leave the Indian village. For joining the Catholic
Church, Kateri was ridiculed and scorned by villagers. She was
subjected to unfair accusations and her life was threatened.
Nearly two years after her baptism on Easter Sunday, April 5 1676,
she escaped to the Mission of St. Francis Xavier, a settlement of
Christian Indians in Canada. The village in Canada was also named
Here she was known for her gentleness, kindness, and good humor.
On Christmas Day 1677, Kateri made her first holy communion and
on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1679 made a vow of perpetual
virginity. She also offered herself to the Blessed Mother Mary to
accept her as a daughter.
During her time in Canada, Kateri taught prayers to children and
worked with the elderly and sick. She would often go to Mass both
at dawn and sunset. She was known for her great devotion to the
Blessed Sacrament and to the Cross of Christ.
During the last years of her life, Kateri endured great suffering
from a serious illness. She died on April 17th, 1680, shortly before
her 24th birthday, and was buried in Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada.
Kateri's final words were . . .
"Jesus - Mary - I love you"
Witnesses reported that within a few minutes of her death,
the pock marks from smallpox completely vanished and her
face shone with radiant loveliness.
Before her death, Kateri promised her friends that she would
continue to love and pray for them in heaven. Both Native
Americans and settlers immediately began praying for her
heavenly intercession. Several people, including a priest who
attended Kateri during her last illness, reported that Kateri
had appeared to them and many healing miracles were attributed
Fifty years after Kateriís death the first convent for Indian
nuns was established in Mexico and they prayed daily for Sainthood
for Blessed Kateri. Their prayers were answered on October 21, 2012
when Kateri was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI, as the first native American woman to be
honored with sainthood.
"I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus.
He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty
that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me.
All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing.
With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is
necessary and what is left over Iíll give to my relatives
and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work,
then I shall be like the Lord on the Cross. He will have
mercy on me and help me, I am sure."
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
"In this day and age, when the pleasure-principle so dominates
our society, and when people expend all kinds of time, effort
and energy to remove the Cross from Christianity and to escape
the sometimes harsh realities and responsibilities of mature
Christian living, Kateri Tekakwitha stands as an heroic example
of how to integrate the mystery of the Cross with the mystery of
the Resurrection in a way that gives honor and glory to God and
that ensures loving service to His people."
Most Reverend Howard J. Hubbard, DD, Bishop of Albany, N.Y.
Novena Prayer to Saint Kateri
Saint Kateri, favored child, Flower of the Algonquins and
Lily of the Mohawks, We come to seek your intercession in
our present need: (mention it here).
We admire the virtures which adorned your soul: love of
God and neighbor, humility, obedience, patience, purity
and the spirit of sacrifice. Help us to imitate your example
in our life. Through the goodness and mercy of God, Who has
blessed you with so many graces which led you to the true
faith and to a high degree of holiness, pray to God for us
and help us.
Obtain for us a very fervent devotion to the Holy Eucharist
so that we may love Holy Mass as you did and receive Holy
Communion as often as we can. Teach us also to be devoted
to our crucified Savior as you were, that we may cheerfully
bear our daily crosses for love of Him Who suffered so much
for love of us. Most of all we beg you to pray that we may
avoid sin, lead a holy life and save our souls. Amen
In thanksgiving to God for the graces bestowed upon Saint
Kateri: pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and three Glory Beís
July 14 (U.S.) - Feast of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha - Love, Courage and Faith in the Face of Suffering- First Native American Woman to be honored with Sainthood
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