July 13, 2017

Memorial of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

July 14th is the Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to ever be declared a saint by the Catholic Church. She is venerated for her purity, deep devotion and unflinching personal courage, The diocese of Albany has two shrines dedicated to St. Kateri. also known by the title, “Lily of the Mohawk.”

Kateri was born near present day Auriesville, New York in 1656. She was the daughter of a Mohawk chief and a Christian mother and, as such, was entitled to all the privileges that were part of being a princess among her people.

When she was four years of age, smallpox raged through her village, killing her parents and leaving Kateri scarred and partially blind. Despite this, her lineage still made her a desirable marriage partner; however, she enraged both her uncle, who had adopted her, and her tribe when she told them of her decision to remain a virgin.

Kateri was baptized on Easter Sunday, 1676 and was immediately taken to a Jesuit Indian mission near Montreal to protect her from the resulting hostility of her people. There she spent the rest of her life in deep prayer and penance.

In 1680, she became ill once again and died shortly after. It is said that on her deathbed, all her smallpox scars vanished, leaving her skin unblemished. Kateri Tekakwitha was beatified by Saint John Paul II in 1980. She has been declared, together with St. Francis of Assisi, co-patron of ecology and the environment. Almighty God, who desired the Virgin St. Kateri Tekakwitha to flower among Native Americans in a life of innocence, grant, through her intercession, that when all are gathered to you, they may magnify you in a single song of praise.

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