Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was four years old when her mother died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri and transfigured her face.
Kateri was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle. Kateri became converted as a teenager. She was baptized at the age of twenty and incurred the great hostility of her tribe.
Although she had to suffer greatly for her Faith, she remained firm in it. Kateri went to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus Crucified.
She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. She is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks”. Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada. Kateri was declared venerable by the Catholic Church in 1943 and she was Beatified in 1980. Work is currently underway to have her Canonized by the Church. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at both St. Francis Xavierand Caughnawaga and at her birth place at Auriesville, New York. Pilgrimages at these sites continue today.
Bl. Kateri Teckakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Blessed. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology as is St. Francis of Assisi.
Patronage: Ecologists; ecology; environment; environmentalism; environmentalists; exiles; loss of parents; people in exile; people ridiculed for their piety; World Youth Day.
Symbols: lily (a symbol of her purity); a cross (a symbol of her love of Jesus Christ); or a turtle (a symbol of her clan).
Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
O God who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession; that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among her Saints by Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
~Imprimatur: Most Reverend Howard J. Hubbard, DD, Bishop of Albany, N.Y.