Canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha

Canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, in Rome this Sunday.

And here in Utah, a celebration out in the Uintas — Sunday, Oct. 21, 11 a.m. at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Mission, #1, 14 Duchesne County Road, Ft. Duchesne. Reception to follow at Saint Helen Catholic Church, 433 East 2nd North, Roosevelt.

Blessed Kateri was born in 1656 in an Mohawk tribe. She was the daughter of Kenneronkwa, a Mohawk chief, and Tagaskouita, a Roman Catholic Algonquin who had been adopted into the tribe after capture. Ten years before, three Jesuit missionaries had been murdered in the Mohawk Valley (they were canonized in 1930). Nevertheless, a Catholic mission to the Mohawk Indians was started.

When Kateri turned 18, Father Jacques de Lamberville arrived to take charge of the mission in her village. Despite his misgivings, her uncle allowed her to be baptized as long as she remained in the village. Following her Baptism, Kateri lived a pious and faith-filled life, spending hours in prayer and fashioning crosses out of twigs. She also refused to marry, believing that she was married to God and that no man could take God’s place in her heart. Her beliefs were met with ridicule, hostility and threats. Thus, two years after her Baptism, she fled to St. Francis Xavier Mission, a Christian Mohawk village in Kahnawake, Quebec.

There, she received her first Communion on Christmas Day 1677. She also made a vow of perpetual virginity on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1679. In Kahnawake, Kateri was known for her faith and holiness. She taught prayers to children, cared for the elderly and the sick, and would often attend mass at sunrise and sunset.

Kateri’s health deteriorated in the last years of her life. She died of tuberculosis on April 17, 1680, shortly before her 24th birthday, and was buried at St. Francis Xavier Mission. Her final words were: “Jesos Konoronkwa” (“Jesus, I love you”). Witnesses report that within minutes of her death, the smallpox scars vanished from her face, which then radiated with beauty.

It is believed that since Kateri’s death many miracles have been performed through her intercession, with the sick being cured and many prayers being answered. Kateri was declared Venerable by Pope Pius XII on January 3, 1943, and beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980. On December 19, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree officially acknowledging another miracle attributed to her intervention. On February 18, 2012, the Holy Father announced that Blessed Kateri will be canonized on October 21, 2012. She will thus become “the first native North American to be raised to the glory of the altars”.

Articles about her at: the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and, for a secular view, the  NY Times .

Regarding the Jesuit martyrs who prepared the way for the evangelization of various Great Lakes tribes:

Between 1642 and 1649 these eight members of the Society of Jesus, who had travelled to North America to preach the true faith, were killed by the native Huron and Iroquois tribes after horrible tortures. Isaac Jogues died on 18 October 1647, and John de Brébeuf on 16 March 1648.  See the articles on John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues in Wikipedia, and in the Catholic Encyclopaedia (Brébeuf and Jogues).


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