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Kateri Tekakwitha
THE MANY STORIES OF THE LILY OF THE MOHAWKS
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PRAYER::: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, bright star of love and faith, Be my guide and guardian always. Kateri, flower of purity and prayer, Be my advocate before God, especially in my present need. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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Born 1656, Ossernenon, Iroquois Confederacy (Modern Auriesville, New York) Died April 17, 1680, Kahnawake (near Montreal), Quebec, Canada Venerated in Roman Catholic Church (United States and Canada) Beatified June 22, 1980, Rome by Pope John Paul II Major shrine St Francis Xavier Church, Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada Feast July 14 (United States)
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Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha or Blessed Catherine Tekakwitha (Mohawk) (1656 – April 17, 1680), the daughter of a Mohawk warrior and a Catholic Algonquin woman, was born in the Mohawk fortress of Ossernenon near present-day Auriesville, New York. When she was four, smallpox swept through Ossernenon, and Tekakwitha was left with unsightly scars on her face and poor eyesight. The outbreak took the lives of her brother and both her parents. She was then adopted by her uncle, who was a chief of the Turtle-clan.[1] As the adopted daughter of the chief, she was courted by many of the warriors looking for her hand in marriage. However, during this time she began taking interest in Christianity, which was taught to her by her mother. In 1666, Alexandre de Prouville burned down Ossernenon. Kateri's clan then settled on the north side of the Mohawk River, near what is now Fonda, New York. While living here, at the age of 20, Tekakwitha was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1676[1] by Father Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit. At her baptism, she took the name "Kateri," a Mohawk pronunciation of the name "Catherine" as it was pronounced in French. Tekakwitha literally translates to, "she moves things."
Unable to understand her zeal, members of the tribe often chastised her, which she took as a testament to her faith. Because she was persecuted by her Native American kin, which even resulted in threats on her life, she fled to an established community of Native American Christians located in Kahnawake, Quebec, where she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance, and care for the sick and aged. In 1679, she took a vow of chastity, as in the Catholic expression of Consecrated virginity. A year later, Kateri died at the age of 24, with her last words being "Jesus, I love you!"
She is called "The Lily of the Mohawks," the "Mohawk Maiden," the "Pure and Tender Lily," and the "Fairest Flower among True Men."
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According to eyewitness accounts, Kateri's scars vanished at the time of her death revealing a woman of immense beauty. It has been claimed that at her funeral many of the ill who attended were healed on that day. It is also held that she appeared to two different individuals in the weeks following her death. The process for her canonization began in 1884. She was declared Venerable by Pope Pius XII on January 3, 1943. She was later beatified on June 22, 1980 by Pope John Paul II, and as such she is properly referred to as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha within the Roman Catholic Church. She is the first Native American to be so honored, and as such she holds a special place of devotion among the Native/Aboriginal Catholics of North America. Devotion to Blessed Kateri is clearly manifest in at least three national shrines in the United States alone, including the National Kateri Shrine in Fonda, New York, the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.. Likewise, she has been commemorated by a statue on the outside of the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in Quebec. In 2007, Blessed Kateri was featured along with Blessed Junipero Serra, Saint Joseph, and Saint Francis of Assisi in the Grand Retablo, a newly installed work by Spanish artisans standing over forty feet high behind the main altar of the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, California. The final step in the canonization process is awaiting a verified miracle. Blessed Kateri's feast day in the United States is celebrated on July 14. Kateri was for some time after her death considered an honorary (though unofficial) patroness of Montreal, Canada, and Native Americans. Fifty years after her death a Convent for Native American nuns was opened in Mexico, whose residents pray daily for her canonization.
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BLESSED KATERI TEKAKWITHA Lily of the Mohawks
by: Sarah Skanaieah
Tekakwitha was the daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother and a non-Christian Mohawk Chief. She was born in 1656 on the south bank of the Mohawk River, in a village called Ossernenon. When she was four years old, a smallpox epidemic claimed the lives of her parents and baby brother. Their names are unknown. Tekakwitha 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). The first time she saw a priest was in 1667 when Fathers Fremin, Bruyas and Pierron visited Caughnawaga.
In 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.
In August of 1677, Kateri fled her village to go and live at Sault St. Louis, St. Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal.
Two months later and about two hundred miles through woods, rivers and swamps, Kateri arrived at the Sault with the help of friends.
On Christmas Day, 1677, Kateri received her first Holy Communion.
During a winter hunt, Kateri was falsely accused of sinful relations with a hunter.
Mary 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.
In 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. On 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: [Mohawk] "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.
On January 3, 1943, she was declared Venerable by Pope Pius XII.
She was Beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 30, 1980.
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Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born of a Christian Algonquin mother and of a Mohawk baptized a Christian and devoted her like to the Faith. In 1660, an epidemic of smallpox deprived Tekakwitha of her parents, but spared her, although she had been stricken. Even after her recovery, the usual disfigurement and weakening of the eyes remained. Together with the other survivors, she moved to a new settlement a little to the west and eventually to still another village just west of presentday Fonda, N.Y. When she reached the age for Indian maidens to think of matrimony, Tekakwitha’s uncle, now a great chief, along with her aunts began to select a brave for her. To their dismay, she announced that she had no intentions of becoming the wife of any man. That decision brought the wrath of the family upon her, but their attempts to deceive and force her into the state for which she had no desire were futile. She was only interested in a Christian baptism.
In 1675, Father James de Lamberville, S.J., took charge of St. Peter’s Mission at Caughnawaga. It was to him that Tekakwitha opened her heart and expressed the argent desire for baptism. However, while Father de Lamberville admired her simplicity and faith, he made her follow the rigid rule established for catechumens. Six months later, on Easter Sunday, 1675, Father Lamberville gave Tekakwitha baptism. It was a great day for Caughnawaga. The whole village crowded in and around the church when Tekakwitha was baptized. For they all loved her, she was quiet, and kind. When she entered the chapel she was simply Tekakwitha, but when the solemn ceremony had been completed she became known as Kateri or Catherine Tekakwitha. Born a non-Christian at Ossernenon (Auriesville), Tekakwitha was destined to be reborn in Christ as Caughnawaga (Fonda).
It was during the autumn of 1677 that she fled from the Mohawk countryside to the Mission of St. Francis Xavier on the St. Lawrence. Father James de Lamberville, who had baptized her in her homeland when she was 20, gave her a note for Father James Fremin, superior of the Mission: “I’m sending you a treasure,” he wrote. “Guard it well!” The latter soon found out she was a treasure. Her unfailing gentleness, her wholesome humility, her innate kindness, her good humour and wit soon won the hearts of the population. Every morning she attended Mass at four o’clock and again at seven. In all things she was a faithful as the stars in the sky. Out of ignorance, though, she practiced excessive penance until her confessor toned it down. He well understood that she was motivated by an intense personal love of Jesus, of His Blessed Mother and of her neighbor, whoever that might be. The great delight of her life was prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament: in those days, it was safe to leave churches unlocked. However, she never indulged in contemplation when it was her duty to work, either in her longhouse or in the cornfields. A few months after her arrival, on Christmas Day 1677, Kateri Tekakwitha was allowed to receive her first communion. From that time onwards, her spiritual progress came by leaps and bounds. This young unlettered Indian woman even achieved here below what theologians call “union with God.” With a few friends, she thought of founding a community of Indian nuns, but was dissuaded from doing so by her spiritual director, who judged she was too new a Christian for such an undertaking. Forty years or so later, the story of her life helped to organize the first Convent of Indian Poor Clares in Mexico City, among them a descendant of Montezuma. On March 25, 1679, Father Fremin allowed Kateri to pronounce a private vow of virginity and to consecrate herself to Our Blessed Mother, whom she dearly loved.
At the beginning of 1680 her health, which was never very good, took a bad turn after she accompanied a companion to Laprairie, several miles downstream from the Mission on a bitter cold day. On Tuesday of Holy Week, she received Holy Viaticum, dressed in borrowed attire, having none which she thought appropriate to receive her Beloved with. On the following day, she told her friends they could gather firewood, for she would not die until they returned. Ahs so it was. Shortly after the three o’clock, as she whispered, “Jesus, Mary,” her Lord came to get her. She was not quite twenty-four years old. Favours and miracles obtained through her intercession began almost immediately. No wonder then that biographies of Kateri Tekakwitha have appeared in fourteen different languages and that she is known throughout the world. On January 3, 1943, Pope Pius XII solemnly approved the decree declaring her “Venerable,” thus proclaiming that she had practiced all Christian virtues to a heroic degree. Interest in the young maiden continued to spread in the intervening decades until 1980, the tercentenary of her death, when Pope John Paul II decided the time had come to advance her to the ranks of the “Blessed.”
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Kateri Tekakwitha also known as Catherine Tekakwitha/Takwita, was born in 1656 in Gandahouhague, on the south bank of the Mohawk River, in a village called Ossernenon. The Mohawks were known as the fiercest of the "Five Nations" of the Iroquois. War was waged between the Mohawks and Algonquins. Kateri's mother, a christian Algonquin, was taken captive by a Mohawk warrior and soon they were married. They had a happy life together and eventually had a girl. They named her Tekakwitha, which means "she who moves forward". When she was four years old, a smallpox epidemic claimed the lives of her parents and baby brother. Their names are unknown. Kateri survived the disease but her eyesight was impaired. Her face was scarred and the disease left her weak the rest of her life. After 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 Gandaouague. She was then raised by aunts and an uncle, the Chief of the Turtle Clan.
In 1667 the Jesuit missionaries Fremin, Bruyas, and Pierron spent three days in the lodge of Tekakwutga's uncle. They had accompanied the Mohawk delegation who had been to Quebec to conclude peace with the French. From the Blackrobes she received her first knowledge of Christianity.
In 1670 the Blackrobes established St. Peter's Mission in Caughnawaga now Fonda, NY.
In 1674, Fr. James de Lamberville arrived to take charge of the mission which included the Turtle Clan. Tekakwitha met Father de Lamberville when he visited her home. She told him about her desire to become baptized. Despite opposition to Christianity from her tribe and particularly her uncle, she met with the Blackrobe in secret. She began to take religious instructions. On Easter Sunday, April 5, 1676, at the age of 20, she was baptized and given the name Kateri, Mohawk Indian for Katherine. Her family wanted her to abandon her religion. She became the subject of increased contempt from the people of her village for her conversion, as well as her refusal to work on Sundays or to marry. She practice her religion unflinchingly in the face of almost unbearable opposition. Finally her uncle's lodge ceased to be a place of protection to her.
With the help of Christian Indians she fled her village. Two months later and about two hundred miles through woods, rivers and swamps, Kateri arrived at the Sault.
On Christmas Day, 1677, Kateri received her first Holy Communion. Here she lived in the cabin of a Christian Indian, Mary Teresa Tegaiaguenta. She and Kateri became friends. Both girls performed extraordinary penance. Kateri and her friend asked permission to start a religious community. The request was denied. At Caughnawaga she contributed to the community's economy while engaging in great personal sacrifices. She also continued to keep her personal vow of chastity.
In 1678, Kateri was enrolled in the pious society called The Holy Family because of her extraordinary practices of all virtues.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha died on April 17, 1680, when she was 24 years of age. When she died, much to the amazement of those in attendance, all the disfiguring scars on her face miraculously disappeared.
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Caught Between Two Cultures
Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in Ossernenon, near what is modern Auriesville, New York. Her father, Kenneronkwa, was a Mohawk and member of its Turtle clan. Her mother, Kahenta, was Algonquin and hailed from a village near Trois Rivieres, Quebec. Kahenta had been converted to Christianity by early missionaries to the area. The Algonquin were one of first Native American populaces to ally with French traders but were bitter foes of the Mohawk. The Mohawk were part of the mighty Iroquois League, a confederation of Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations. Politically organized and known as fierce belligerents, the Iroquois began trading with the Dutch and obtained firearms from them and used the weapons to renew hostilities with their neighbors beginning with a 1649 attack on the Huron. Several other communities were dispersed, among them the Algonquin to which Tekakwitha's mother belonged. War had decimated the Iroquois ranks, however, and it became standard practice to take their defeated as prisoners and subsume them into the population of their Five Nations. Tekakwitha's mother had been captured by the Mohawk around 1653 and became part of a community in this way. Her union with Kenneronkwa resulted in a son and daughter, Tekakwitha. In 1660, when Tekakwitha was four years old, a smallpox epidemic decimated the community, and both her parents as well as her brother died. She survived the outbreak, though it left her face scarred and her vision impaired. She was taken in by her uncle, a village chief, who was a great foe of the Roman Catholic missionaries from France in the area. When Tekakwitha was ten years old the French emerged victorious over the Iroquois League, and the peace treaty permitted the determined order of Jesuit priests, whom the Native Americans called "Black Robes," access to Mohawk villages in order to convert the residents to Christianity.
Refused an Arranged Marriage
Tekakwitha's uncle was forced to be hospitable to three Jesuits fathers named Fremin, Bruyas, and Pierron, and assigned the 11-year-old Tekakwitha to look after them. She was reportedly impressed by their exemplary manners and conduct, and though she likely knew her mother was Christian, this may have been her first genuine introduction to Christianity. Eventually the Jesuits established St. Peter's Mission in 1670 and consecrated a chapel inside one of the traditional Iroquois longhouse dwellings. Two missionaries who took over noted that as a teen Tekakwitha became increasingly devout and rejected her family's attempts to arrange a marriage. They grew increasingly angry at her behavior and sometimes denied her food for her obstinacy.
It is likely that Tekakwitha had heard about a community of unwed women in Quebec who lived together in devotion to their Roman Catholic faith, as the Jesuits did; these women were called the Ursuline sisters. There was also some history of virgins and voluntary chastity in the Iroquois nation. However, Europeans had reportedly given these women alcohol and their behavior had brought shame on the Iroquois; such professions of celibacy had subsequently been prohibited. Tekakwitha's determination to remain unmarried was helped by the arrival of the Jesuit James de Lamberville in 1674 at St. Peter's. Tekakwitha confided in him that she wished to fully convert, and he encouraged her in that goal. After catechism classes, she was baptized on Easter Sunday of 1676 and given the name "Catherine," or Kateri.
Shunned by Community
Immediately Tekakwitha became a pariah in her village. "Her new religion angered her relatives and the villagers, who saw her conversion as a traitorous embracing of the white man's religion and a rejection of their own customs," noted America writer George M. Anderson. She remained there six months and was forbidden food on Sundays and Christian holidays because she refused to work in accordance with Christian doctrine. Her relatives and the other villagers increased their harassment campaign and even accused her of attempting to seduce other women's husbands at the remote prayer site she liked to visit. To rescue her, Lamberville sent Tekakwitha to the Jesuit mission of Saint Francis Xavier, at Kanawake, Quebec, on the Sault Saint Louis straits. She made the 200-mile trip in 1677 with the help of other converted Native Americans, at a time when her vision was worsening. Her relatives were furious and sent a search party after her, but she was able to hide in tall grasses and elude them with the help of her traveling companions. The Saint Francis Xavier mission had several Christian Native Americans in residency, about 150 families, and Tekakwitha found a sympathetic spiritual mentor in Anastasie Tegonhatsiongo, who had known her mother. Tegonhatsiongo, however, agreed with Tekakwitha's family and believed it would be best if she married.
Known for Her Piety
Tekakwitha was still determined to become a nun, however, and at one point made a trip to Montreal and met the sisters of the Hotel-Dieu hospital there. She had gone with two other Native American women, and the three resolved to form their own religious community back at Kanawake. Tegonhatsiongo requested the intervention of one Father Cholenic, who consulted his superiors on the matter; all agreed that it was far too early for an exclusively Native American cloister, but Tekakwitha was finally granted her wish and allowed to take her vow of chastity on March 25, 1679, the Feast of Annunciation. Tekakwitha's devotion to her religion was legendary. Her "penances," wrote Anderson in America, "went far beyond such standard practices as fasting and vigils. Walking barefoot in snow and whipping herself with reeds until her back bled were among the milder ones." She ate little, and sometimes mixed what she did with ashes first. She stood for hours barefoot in the snow before the cross, praying the rosary, and spent more hours inside the mission's unheated chapel on bare knees on the stone floor. She reportedly slept on a bed of thorns for three nights and even arranged to be flagellated. Such ascetic practices were the hallmarks of the truly devout Catholic saints, but they also had some precedence in Iroquois spirituality as well. Its system of belief held great store in dreams, which were termed "the language of the soul." To not dream, the Iroquois believed, was unhealthy, and so for those that could not attain or remember their dreams, there were means to induce a trance - either via a sweat-bath, fasting, chanting, or even acts of self-mutilation. The mixing of food and ashes that Tekakwitha tried also had its origins in these practices.
In the end, Tekakwitha's punishing penances were debilitating, and she died at the age of 24 on April 17, 1680. According the Jesuits who prayed over her body afterward, the smallpox scars on her face miraculously disappeared some 15 minutes after she died. On this account she was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 30, 1980. A petition for her canonization was submitted to the Vatican in 1884, and her sainthood requires proof of one more miracle. There are quarterlies in her honor, among them Lily of the Mohawks, and Native American Catholics consider her an important historical and spiritual figure. She is also the patroness of the environment and ecology.
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The young woman whom God gave to us for our inspiration and guidance, Kateri Tekakwitha, was a member of the TURTLE clan of the Iroquois tribe. The turtle has long been a symbol of fertility and motherhood among the Native Americans and this symbol may be applied to a young woman such as Kateri even though she never married and had children in her lifetime, for she now has many children in her devoted followers. Among the Lakota, a baby's umbilical cord is kept in a small, beaded, leather turtle and given to the child to keep as a reminder of their day of birth and their origins. Like Kateri, we are baptized and now have our origins in God, the loving Spirit who creates us anew and gives us life within us rising up like a lively stream of life-giving water.
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Kateri Tekakwitha: Her Life
Tekakwitha is the name she was given by her people when she was born. In Mohawk, it means: "She puts things in order." This was a good name for her because all her life, Tekakwitha put things where they should be. She put God first in her life.
Tekakwitha was born among Mohawk people in the Turtle clan. Her father was a full-blood Mohawk and her mother was Algonquin. The village that she was born in was in the east. Today it is called New York, but in those days it was all Indian country. White people were beginning to come there but most of the people were Indian.
When the white people came, they brought terrible sickness with them and many of the Indian people died. They were diseases that they had never seen before, and it made them very afraid. Sometimes a whole village would die. Families were wiped out by measles or small pox and children were left without parents, and parents left without children. This is what happened to Tekakwitha and her parents. They died of sickness when she was very little and she was adopted by her uncle. She was only four years old and very lonely. Her uncle needed a daughter and so he took her into his longhouse to stay.
Her uncle took good care of her, but she was little and weak. She had marks all over her skin because she had small pox, too. She had been very sick but did not die. Sometimes her eyes could not stand the sunlight, or were blurry because of the disease. But she tried to work hard around the longhouse getting water, cooking corn meal, getting firewood. Along with all the other women she went to the fields to plant and hoe the corn. In the fall, she helped pick the corn and put it away for the winter. It was hard work, but all her life, Tekakwitha wasn't afraid to work hard to help others. Working hard so that everyone could stay alive was a traditional Indian value and she believed in it. Her people came first.
One day, some strange white men came to visit the village where Tekakwitha lived. The people called them "black robes" because that is what they wore all the time. They were not soldiers and they did not come to trade things like the other white men did. They asked the chiefs if they could talk to the people about God, the Great Spirit. They said they had some good news about Him for the people to hear. They promised to be peaceful and not harm anyone, and gave some gifts to the chiefs. The chiefs agreed to let them stay awhile and build a lodge in their village. Kindness to strangers was an Indian value and they were chiefs.
The "black robes" stayed among the people and spoke often about Jesus, who as God's son, came to show people how to live in peace. He gave his life in great suffering on the cross for all people everywhere, even the Indian people who already knew about the Great Spirit. Tekakwitha heard these men speak and she felt her heart go out to them and their words. She felt they were good words for her and her people to hear. She was 12 years old and had many things that she was thinking about. She had many questions and these men were giving answers that went straight to her heart. For the next eight years, the black robes came among her people, speaking and baptizing. She held back during that time until she felt ready to ask for baptism. She knew that it would displease her uncle and she did not want to hurt him. She respected him and owed so much to him for taking care of her all her years in his longhouse. But she finally felt that she must do what God was calling her to do. True to her name, she put God first in her life. If God was really her Father, then she must respect his wishes also. On Easter in 1676, she had the water of Baptism poured over her and became a follower of Jesus. From then on, she felt a great closeness to God. She was filled with the presence of God and his love, and talked to Him often in her prayers.
At first, her life did not look different. She still worked as hard as ever and took care of her relatives. But gradually, some of the people began to make fun of her, because they felt that she was betraying the Indian people and going over to the whites. Kateri (her new name after Baptism) tried to tell them that God, the Great Spirit who made all people, belongs to everyone. They did not understand her and called her a "Christian dog" because she listened to the white black robes. It was a hard time for Kateri Tekakwitha but she put up with it because she loved God and would not go back on her promise to serve him.
Many times her family would say to her: "Kateri, it is time for you to have a family of your own. Your uncle needs your husband to help him now, he is getting old and you owe it to him." Kateri loved children, and knew that her uncle was getting old and needed help. But since her Baptism, she was so full of God's Spirit, that it was hard for her to think about a husband as well. She felt that all people of goodness were her family now. She was happy the way she was. Her family did not leave her alone, begging her to get married.
They would not give her anything to eat on Sundays because she would not work on that holy day. They began to give her the worst jobs thinking that this would make her give up her ideas. "Who ever heard about living for God alone?" they would say. Kateri accepted all their remarks and jobs cheerfully. She would do anything to remain loyal to God's call. Whenever two hard things begin to push or pull at a person, this is where the cross is. Kateri felt pushed by her family to get married and fit in, but she felt pulled by God to live for him alone. Because she had learned the Indian value of loyalty well, she remained loyal to God. She loved to go to the woods alone and spend time with God. There in the tall trees and quiet sounds, He would speak to her heart. All of nature spoke to her about the Creator and she felt at peace. Being in harmony with all creation was an Indian value that she had learned early in her life and she held to it always. Because she felt the "cross" in her life, she used to make a cross of sticks in the woods and it would comfort her to think about how much Jesus suffered for her. Kateri loved the rosary and carried it around her neck always. She used to sing the prayers in the Indian way, as she went around all the beads of the Rosary.
One day a young warrior decided to scare Kateri into giving up her ways. He put on his war paint, picked up a club and charged at her as if to kill her.
Kateri thought she was going to die, and she did not move. She stayed where she was and kept her eyes down. This great courage so impressed the young man that he lowered his club and walked away. Like the true Indian that she was, Kateri could face death with courage.
Any day was a good day to die.
After a while, Kateri realized that things were not going to change. So she decided that it would be better if she left her home. Some of her people who were Christian already lived in another village with the black robes which they called the "prayer fort." Everybody there was Christian and they lived in peace the way they wanted to. She did not tell her family about this, and when the time came, she took off through the woods with some people from the "prayer fort." It was early in the morning before the others were awake. When her uncle realized that she had gone, he took after her to get her back, but he could not find her, and gave up after awhile.
It was a long trip to the Christian village, and it meant traveling for days on foot and by canoe. Kateri was weak and yet her heart was happy. She could live out the rest of her days in her own way: loving God with all her heart and soul. She had asked God to help her if He wanted her to live for Him alone and he had given her this new life in a new village among friends.
Kateri's days were busy with working as usual to help others. She went to work in the cornfields every day. She gathered firewood as she had always done back in her old village. She went to the woods to pick berries with the other women. The others used to tell her to take it easy, that she was too weak to do so much work, but Kateri did not listen to them. She was generous and wanted to take care of them. Generosity was an Indian value which Kateri loved. It was an honor to give things to others, to make oneself poor. Kateri was good at beading and used to make beautiful things which she gave away. Sometimes she would make something beautiful for God and put it in the chapel for Him alone. She knew that God loved praise in the Indian way.
The Great Spirit had taught Kateri many things in her heart, and she had good advice for others when they asked for it. Often they would say to her: "Kateri tell us a story," and she would. She remembered everything she was told about the life of Jesus and his followers. She would tell these stories as if it were happening. People would listen for a long time and not get bored by her. In fact, they enjoyed being with her, because they felt the presence of God. One time the "black robe" asked the people why they gathered around Kateri in church. They told him that they felt close to God when Kateri prayed. They said that her face changed when she was praying. It became full of beauty and peace, as if she were looking at God's face.
Gradually, Kateri's health grew worse and worse. Finally she had to go to bed and could not help with the work anymore. People still kept coming to her for advice and stories. They would pray with her, too, and feel the presence of God. They did not want to think that she was going to die. They would all miss her so much. She was like a mother to all of them. She never had children of her own, but everyone felt like a family around her.
Kateri was not afraid to die, just as before when the warrior tried to scare her. Instead of making her feel sad, dying made her feel good. She said that it was like "going home." Besides, she would join all the other people who had gone before her. Finally, during Holy Week when the church remembers the suffering and death of Jesus, Kateri died. It was April 17, 1680, and it was spring time. Just when mother earth is giving new life to the trees, plants and animals, God was giving new life to Kateri Tekakwitha. Kateri was young in years just 24 years old. But she was ancient in wisdom. By the life God had called her to live, she had shown all peoples everywhere that the Indian people are a deeply spiritual people. The Gospel belongs to all people and cultures. Wherever its sun shines, flowers spring up out of the native earth to praise it.
After Kateri Tekakwitha was dead, those who were with her noticed a change in her. The skin on her face that had been full of scars and marks from small pox looked smooth and fresh. Everyone knew from this sign that God had always loved Kateri very much and was letting others know it. The words that the mother of Jesus said once could be about Kateri as well: "God has looked on my lowliness and from now on, all nations will call me blessed!"
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A daughter of two different Native American nations, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in the Mohawk Valley in what is now New York State. Her father was a Mohawk chief, her mother a Christian Algonquin captive. When Tekakwitha was four, her parents and infant brother died from smallpox. Tekakwitha suffered from the same illness, but recovered. The disease left her face covered with little scars and her vision was damaged. She was adopted by her father's brother and his wife. When Tekakwitha was in her late teens, French priests built a mission at Caughnawaga, her uncle's village. Tekakwitha was very shy and her uncle ordered her not to speak with the "Blackrobes," as the priest were called. But Tekakwitha remembered her mother had been a Christian and wanted to learn more about her mother's faith.
One day, a foot injury kept Tekakwitha home alone. Father Jacques de Lamberville, one of the Blackrobes, passed by her door. He didn't think anyone was there but, for some reason, decided to look in. Tekakwitha was glad to see him and told him that she wished to be a Christian.
Tekakwitha was baptized on Easter Sunday of 1676. She took the name Kateri; it is the Mohawk version of Catherine. She took her new faith to heart and had a great love for Jesus and His holy mother, Mary. Kateri's family did not approve of her new religion. They insulted her and treated her like a slave. They tried to trick her into marrying against her will. She had to run away to a mission village near Montreal, Canada. It was a long journey of over three hundred miles made on foot and by canoe.
At the Saint Francis-Xavier Mission, Kateri made her First Holy Communion. On that day - it was Christmas, 1677 - her poor eyes, which could not bear the light of the sun, shone with the light of the Son.
Kateri was known for her great love and kindness. She helped nurse the sick, looked after children and tended to the elderly. Her motto was, "Who will teach me what is most pleasing to God so I may do it?" Kateri spent long hours in prayer, either in the little mission church or before a cross she had cut into the bark of a tree. Her rosary was always at hand and she prayed it often.
Kateri wished to become a nun. She wanted to build a tiny convent on an island near the mission. Her confessor decided that she was too young and inexperienced for such a lifestyle. Still, Kateri wished to dedicated her whole life to Jesus Christ. So she took a vow of virginity and promised herself to Jesus forever.
After a long and painful illness, Kateri Tekakwitha died on April 17, 1680. She was twenty-four years old. Her last whispered words were, "Jesus, Mary, I love You!"
Fifteen minutes later, the ugly smallpox scars faded and a sweet smile appeared on her lips. It was as if a ray of Heaven's light were shining upon her suddenly beautiful face.
Soon, people began to call her the Lily of the Mohawks in honor of her pure, good life. They began to pray to her and ask for her aid. Her grave became a place of pilgrimage and her story spread to many parts of the world.
Just before she died, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha promised to pray for and help her friends from Heaven. Three hundred years later, she still does.
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The tomb of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha at the Saint FrancisXavier Mission at Kahnawake, near Montreal. When Kateri died, two French settlers - so moved by the sight of herradiant, peaceful face - built a wood coffin to hold her precious remains. When the mission moved from one location to another, her bones were to valuable to leave behind and were exhumed. The coffin made identification possible because Kateri was the only Indian buried in such a fashion.
In the late 1800s, Reverend Clarence Walworth of Saint Mary's Church in Albany, New York,arranged for a monument to be erected over what was then her burial place. Her relics were later exhumed and stored in a wooden chest until they were placed in a marble tomb.
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Canonization Prayer O God, who, amongst the many marvels of Thy Grace in the New World, didst cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech Thee, the favor we beg through her intercession, that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among the Saints of Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the same Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

  • http://www.kateritekakwitha.org/kateri/
  • http://www.kateritekakwitha.org/kateri/mycousin/index.html
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBz1K14UMQg&feature=related
  • Litany: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/Litanies/kateri.htm

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