Pope Benedict XVI has canonized Kateri Tekakwitha, known as Lily of the Mohawks, as a Catholic saint. Saint Kateri lived from 1656 – April 17, 1680. She was a consecrated virgin of the Native American Mohawk tribe having lived in president day New York and Montreal.
Born in New York, she survived the smallpox epidemic that ravished her people. Smallpox left her with scars and impaired eyesight. Worst of all, the epidemic left her an orphan.
Catholic saint, virgin and religious laywoman. Born in present-day New York, she survived smallpox and was orphaned as a child, then baptized as a Roman Catholic and settled for the last years of her life at the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal in New France.
At age 18, she began to study the Catholic Faith. She was baptized at age 20 on Easter of 1676. Her surviving extended family were opposed to her conversion. This resistance prompted her move to Montreal. Three years after her baptism in 1679, Kateri consecrated her virginity to our Lord Jesus Christ. This made her the first consecrated virgin of the Mohawk. At these time, the Jesuit missionaries had not introduced a formal way for the natives to join religious orders. Hence, unlike most consecrated virgins, Saint Kateri could not be incorporated into a convent.
Saint Kateri entered into physical and spiritual mortifications for the conversion of her people. She died a holy death during Holy Week of 1680 at the age of 23 or 24. Her last words were, “Jesus, I love you.”
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks, pray for us.
PS: It seems that every Halloween, one of our daughters is Saint Kateri. A great costume for little girls.