(Lily of the Mohawks)
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, known as Lily of the Mohawks or Genevieve of New France, was a convert to Christianity who took a vow of chastity. She was beatified in 1980, and was the first Native American proposed for canonization by the Roman Catholic Church.
was the daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother and a non-Christian Mohawk
was born in 1656 on the south bank of the Mohawk River, in a village called
she was four years old, a smallpox epidemic claimed the lives of her parents
and baby brother. Their names are unknown.
survived the disease but her eyesight was impaired. Her face was scarred and
the disease left her weak the rest of her life. After about five years of the
sickness, the survivors of the village moved to the north bank of the river
to begin a new life. Tekakwitha and her relatives moved into the turtle clan
village called Gandauoque (Caughnawaga).
first time she saw a priest was in 1667 when Fathers Fremin, Bruyas and Pierron
1670, St. Peter's Mission was established in Caughnawaga (Fonda, NY). A chapel
was built inside one of the longhouses. In 1674, Fr. James de Lamberville took
charge of St. Peter's Mission.
Tekakwitha met Fr. De Lamberville a year later when he visited her home. She told him about her desire to become baptized. She began to take religious instruction, and in 1676, April 5th, on Easter Sunday, she was baptized and given the name Kateri or Katherine.
August of 1677, Kateri fled her village to go and live at Sault St. Louis, St.
Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal.
months later and about two hundred miles through woods, rivers and swamps, Kateri
arrived at the Sault with the help of friends.
Christmas Day, 1677, Kateri received her first Holy Communion.
During a winter hunt, Kateri was falsely accused of sinful relations with a hunter.
Teresa (Tegaiaguenta) and Kateri became friends. Both girls performed extraordinary
penances. Kateri and her friend asked permission to start a religious community.
Request was denied.
1678, Kateri enrolled in the pious society called The Holy Family because of
her extraordinary practices of all virtues.
On March 15, 1679, at the Feast of the Annunciation, a moment after receiving Holy Communion, Kateri pronounced her vow of perpetual virginity.
Her whole life was devoted to teaching prayers to the children and helping the sick and the aged until she was struck with an illness that was to claim her life.
April 17th, 1680, on Wednesday of Holy Week, she died at 3 o'clock in the afternoon
at the age of twenty-four. Her last words were: "Jesos Konoronkwa".
"Jesus I Love You". Fifteen minutes after her death before the eyes
of two Jesuits and all the Indians that could fit into the room, the ugly scars
on her face suddenly disappeared.
January 3, 1943, she was declared Venerable by Pope Pius XII.
was Beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 30, 1980.
After her death at Caughnawaga, Canada, her grave became a pilgrimage site and place of many miracles for Christian Native Americans and French colonists.
PRAISE OF BLESSED KATERI AT TIME OF BEATIFICATION
1980, in Rome Italy, Pope and Bishop praise Blessed Kateri.
Homily of Pope John Paul II
This wonderful crown of new blesseds, God's bountiful gift to his Church, is completed by the sweet, frail yet strong figure of a young woman who died when she was only twenty-four years old: Kateri Tekakwitha, the "Lily of the Mohawks", the Iroquois maiden, who in seventeenth century North America was the first to renew the marvels of sanctity of St. Scholastica, Saint Gertrude, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Angela Merici and Saint Rose of Lima, preceding, along the path of Love, her great spiritual sister, Therese of Child Jesus.
spent her short life partly in what is now the State of New York and partly
in Canada. She is a kind, gentle and hardworking person, spending her time working,
praying, and meditating. At the age of twenty she receives Baptism. Even when
following her tribe in the hunting seasons, she continues her devotions, before
a rough cross carved by herself in the forest. When her family urges her to
marry, she replies very serenely and calmly that she has Jesus as her only spouse.
This decision, in view of the social conditions of women in the Indian Tribes
at the time, exposes Kateri to the risk of living as outcast and in poverty.
It is a bold, unusual and prophetic gesture: on 25 March, 1679, at the age of
twenty-three, with the consent of her spiritual director, Kateri takes a vow
of perpetual virginity - as far as we know the first time that this was done
among the North American Indians.
The last months of her life are an ever clearer manifestation of her solid faith, straight-forward humility, calm resignation and radiant joy, even in the midst of terrible sufferings. Her last words, simple and sublime, whispered at the moment of her death, sum up, like a noble hymn, a life of purest charity: "Jesus, I love you....".
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