Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Kateri Sainthood Could Take a Miracle
Albany Times Union ^ | 6/14/2004 | Carol DeMare

Posted on 06/14/2004 1:14:09 PM PDT by Pyro7480

Kateri sainthood could take a miracle
Supporters fear time is running out for Indian woman to be canonized

AURIESVILLE -- Catholics worldwide have long prayed for a local Indian maiden to be made a saint.

All that's needed is a miracle.

Time may be running out though.

Since Pope John Paul II elevated Kateri Tekakwitha to the ranks of "blessed," in June 1980, the "Lily of the Mohawks" has been a step away from becoming the first Native American woman to achieve sainthood.

The Pope is strongly behind her. But at 84 and in frail health, the chances he'll be around to canonize her are fading. Kateri's supporters are racing against the clock to prove that a miracle resulted through prayers to her.

In his zeal to canonize exemplary Catholics, John Paul has surpassed all his predecessors.

The Pope is "dedicated to providing local saints in many areas of the world so that people will think of sainthood, not as something terribly extraordinary, but as something accessible to ordinary people," said the Rev. Kenneth Doyle of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese.

At Kateri's beatification 24 years ago, John Paul presided over a spectacular ceremony in Rome that drew hundreds of Americans and Canadians, including an Albany delegation and Bishop Howard Hubbard who read a summary of her life in Latin. Pope Pius XII had declared her "venerable" in 1943, the first step toward sainthood.

Under current rules, proof of two miracles is required for sainthood -- instantaneous cures of incurable afflictions, supported by medical data. They must occur before beatification and after. A panel of doctors in Rome reviews the reports so they must be convincing.

In Kateri's case, the Pope waived the miracle requirement before beatification. It doesn't appear he will do it again.

"We have, since 1980, needed one miracle performed through her intercession," said the Rev. John Paret, the Jesuit who is vice postulator of the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha League, headquartered at the Auriesville Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Montgomery County.

"We haven't gotten it yet. We've had many disappointments."

The Pope waived it once because "he thought it was good for the Indian people to have one of their own as a blessed," but the word now is he's "playing by the rules," said Paret, who senses his own vulnerability at 85.

He lives and works at Auriesville -- once called Ossernenon -- where Jesuit missionaries, who laid the groundwork for converting the Mohawks to Christianity, were martyred and where Kateri was born in 1656.

Her mother was a Christian Algonquin and her father a pagan Mohawk tribal chief. Both died when she was 4 during a smallpox epidemic. She was raised by aunts and an uncle. At 20, a missionary baptized her at Caughnawaga, now Fonda, across the Mohawk River.

She died four years later at a Christian Mohawk village in Canada where she fled to avoid persecution from her people whom she had defied by her conversion. She never realized her desire to become a nun but took a vow of purity before she died.

The Albany and Montreal dioceses, where Kateri was born and where she died, sponsored her for sainthood, citing her virtuous life, devotion to Christ and work among the sick.

"She knew God the way you and I don't," said Paret who in 1990 took over the league and is in the forefront of the worldwide organization pulling for sainthood.

"A person stands a better chance of becoming a saint if he or she were a member of a religious order because the order promotes that candidacy. Kateri has an advantage because it's the Jesuits who embraced her. They baptized her and adopted her cause."

Paret said the biggest disappointment came about six years ago when a woman who had lived on a New Mexico reservation came out of a coma after 16 years. The bishop of the Santa Fe diocese had prayed to Kateri.

But the woman, who was in a nursing home at the time, was given medication for the flu, which doctors said brought her out of her coma. A doctor friend of Paret reviewed the case and agreed.

An earlier disappointment occurred when an 8-year-old Georgia boy was blinded in one eye by a screwdriver. The child wore sunglasses and one day a priest kiddingly asked if he were a movie star.

The boy explained what happened, and the priest had the congregation pray to Kateri. Some time later, the child said he could see out of that eye. Unfortunately, there was nothing in the records indicating that doctors said he would never see again, Paret said.

The plight of Kateri has captured the fancy of Catholics throughout the United States and the world. The league publishes Kateri holy cards and literature in several languages. On one day last month, Paret got letters about her from Holland and the Philippines.

For years, it was hoped Kateri would become the first Native American saint in North America. But Juan Diego, a Mexican Indian peasant, became the Church's first indigenous saint on July 31, 2002. The Blessed Mother appeared to Diego, born with the name Cuauhtlatohuac, on a hillside at Guadalupe in 1531.

"I think this Pope has a greater global perspective than any previous pope because he's traveled more," Doyle said. He's made "more than 100 trips to other countries ... and ... has seen the impact on nations when he can canonize or beatify someone from a particular locality," he said.

The Rev. Paolo Molinari, the Rome-based postulator of the Kateri league, told Paret that John Paul II is anxious to canonize her.

Consider that from the year 1588, when record keeping began, to 1978 when John Paul was elected, only 296 people were canonized, said Doyle, pastor of Albany's St. Catherine of Siena parish and the diocesan chancellor for public information. Since then, there have been nearly 500.

Each year, thousands flock to Kateri's birthplace off the New York State Thruway in Auriesville and to the Kateri Shrine across the Mohawk River in Fonda. Many visitors realize their hopes of seeing Kateri made a saint are fading.

At the Auriesville gift shop, Joanne Kichton said they "want to know ... what's holding it up." Louis Pollak, 73, of Johnstown, said, "It's been a long time coming," as he arrived at Auriesville for Mass.

John Carriola, 69, and his wife, Dolores, 62, of Amsterdam said Kateri accomplished much for the faith. Hannah Fettinger, 10, of Johnstown, feels she would be "representing her culture."

Henry Schwallenberg, 49, of the Bronx was visiting Auriesville with his family and asked if Kateri had been canonized. "He's making everyone else a saint," he said.

Mother Teresa is on her way. She was beatified within five years of her death, Doyle pointed out. Of course, the Pope knew the nun and what she did for the poor in India.

At the Fonda shrine where Kateri lived for many years after leaving Auriesville, the Rev. Kevin Kenny, 64, the Franciscan director, says of the visitors, "They are impatient, all of her devotees ... because so many other people seem to be getting ahead of her."

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; History; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: canonization; catholic; kateri; newyork; sainthood
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-22 next last
From my understanding, there's no deadline for the beatified to be canonized. All this sounds like is that these Catholics want John Paul to canonize her.
1 posted on 06/14/2004 1:14:12 PM PDT by Pyro7480
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Siobhan; Canticle_of_Deborah; broadsword; NYer; Salvation; sandyeggo; american colleen; ...

Catholic Ping!

2 posted on 06/14/2004 1:15:26 PM PDT by Pyro7480 (Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix.... sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pyro7480
supporters are racing against the clock

I think you are right on no dealine. The reporter is making the story a little more "dramatic" than it really is.

3 posted on 06/14/2004 2:03:04 PM PDT by siunevada
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: siunevada

Oops. dealine = deadline.

4 posted on 06/14/2004 2:03:54 PM PDT by siunevada
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Pyro7480

I know how her followers feel. I felt the same way about the Beatification of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich.

I was afraid that John Paul, who is favorably disposed toward her would die before he got around to it. Who knows what the next Pope will do? He might think there have been too many beatified and canonized this go round.

I used to go to the Auriesville shrine every summer, and have kissed Bl. Kateri's relic.

5 posted on 06/14/2004 7:24:08 PM PDT by Arguss
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pyro7480
Paret said the biggest disappointment came about six years ago when a woman who had lived on a New Mexico reservation came out of a coma after 16 years. The bishop of the Santa Fe diocese had prayed to Kateri. But the woman, who was in a nursing home at the time, was given medication for the flu, which doctors said brought her out of her coma. A doctor friend of Paret reviewed the case and agreed.

They gave her Symmetrel, a drug that fights parkinson's disease but is actually used to prevent flu. I once treated our nursing home with it during a flu epidemic when the vaccine didn't work. No one came out of a coma, but theoretically they could.

Every Catholic Indian in New Mexico knows this story. They held a prayer service for this lady, who had been in a coma for ten years. Then she woke up. Coincidence?

We have a Kateri shrine at one of our local Catholic churches. Everyone knows she was a saint, it's just hard to "prove" it under the present day rules.

6 posted on 06/15/2004 5:04:26 AM PDT by LadyDoc (liberals only love politically correct poor people)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: LadyDoc
Everyone knows she was a saint, it's just hard to "prove" it under the present day rules.

I agree that "everyone knows". The recognition of who she is will come about in its own time. Maybe just when we need her the most.

7 posted on 06/15/2004 7:32:47 AM PDT by siunevada
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: LadyDoc

I came to this thread thru the Catholic Daily Caucus. Such a shame that the miracle in New Mexico wasn't credited as such. No matter what the offical rules says, it was a miracle that the woman came out of her coma after 16 years...thru prayers of her faith community.

8 posted on 07/14/2005 9:35:04 AM PDT by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Pyro7480

Kateri Tekakwitha 

Kateri Tekakwitha (Children's Version)

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.

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.

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!"

9 posted on 07/14/2005 10:03:56 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Pyro7480

Mrs. White Bull came out of a "persistant vegetative state" after her family and friends held a novena to Kateri.

Alas, since she had been given Amantidine or a similar anti viral medicine a few weeks earlier to prevent Influenza, and Amantidine type medicines are used to treat Parkinson's disease, it won't be classed as a miracle...

10 posted on 07/14/2005 3:51:17 PM PDT by LadyDoc (liberals only love politically correct poor people)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Salvation

Blessed Kateri bump. I enjoyed reading the children's version of her story, it was most inspirational.

11 posted on 07/14/2005 8:37:02 PM PDT by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: LadyDoc

For those who believe that Mrs. White Bull came out of a persistent vegetative state due to fervent prayer and a novena to explanation is necessary. It was a miracle, pure and simple.

12 posted on 07/14/2005 8:39:12 PM PDT by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Ciexyz

BTTT on the Memorial of Blsd. Kateri Tekakwitha on July 14, 2006!

13 posted on 07/14/2006 7:01:43 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: All
BLESSED KATERI TEKAKWITHA (Also known as Catherine Tegakwitha/Takwita.)

(Also known as Catherine Tegakwitha/Takwita.)
Feast: July 14
Known as the "Lily of the Mohawks", and the "Genevieve of New France" an Indian virgin of the Mohawk tribe, born according to some authorities at the Turtle Castle of Ossernenon, according to others at the village of Gandaouge, in 1656; died at Caughnawaga, Canada, 17 April, 1680.

Her mother was a Christian Algonquin who had been captured by the Iroquois and saved from a captive's fate by the father of Tekakwitha, to whom she also bore a son. When Tekakwitha was about four years old, her parents and brother died of small-pox, and the child was adopted by her aunts and an uncle who had become chief of the Turtle clan. Although small-pox had marked her face and seriously impaired her eyesight and her manner was reserved and shrinking, her aunts began when she was yet very young to form marriage projects for her, from which, as she grew older, she shrank with great aversion.

 In 1667 the Jesuit missionaries Fremin, Bruyas, and Pierron, accompanying the Mohawk deputies who had been to Quebec to conclude peace with the French, spent three days in the lodge of Tekakwitha's uncle. From them she received her first knowledge of Christianity, but although she forthwith eagerly accepted it in her heart she did not at that time ask to be baptized. Some time later the Turtle clan moved to the north bank of the Mohawk River, the "castle" being built above what is now the town of Fonda. Here in the midst of scenes of carnage, debauchery, and idolatrous frency Tekakwitha lived a life of remarkable virtue, at heart not only a Christian but a Christian virgin, for she firmly and often, with great risk to herself, resisted all efforts to induce her to marry.

When she was eighteen, Father Jacques de Lamberville arrived to take charge of the mission which included the Turtle clan, and from him, at her earnest request, Tekakwitha received baptism. Thenceforth she practised her religion unflinchingly in the face of almost unbearable opposition, till finally her uncle's lodge ceased to be a place of protection to her and she was assisted by some Christian Indians to escape to Caughnawaga on the St. Laurence. Here she lived in the cabin of Anastasia Tegonhatsihonga, a Christian Indian woman, her extraordinary sanctity impressing not only her own people but the French and the missionaries. Her mortifications were extreme, and Chauchtiere says that she had attained the most perfect union with God in prayer.

Upon her death devotion to her began immediately to be manifested by her people. Many pilgrims visit her grave in Caughnawaga where a monument to her memory was erected by the Rev. Clarence Walworth in 1884; and Councils of Baltimore and Quebec have petitioned for her canonization. On 22 June 1980, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II; her feast day is celebrated on 14 July.

Blanche M. Kelly
Transcribed by Mary and Joseph P. Thomas
In memory of Eugene LaBombard

From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Electronic version copyright © 1996 by New Advent, Inc.
Taken from the New Advent Web Page (

Provided Courtesy of:
Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210

14 posted on 07/14/2006 7:24:32 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Salvation

Thanks for this ping! Here's hoping that another miracle will be confirmed to help her candidacy for sainthood.

15 posted on 07/14/2006 9:16:46 PM PDT by Ciexyz (Leaning on the everlasting arms.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Ciexyz

Amen to that.

16 posted on 07/14/2006 9:25:21 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Ciexyz

Yes, but we can also take comfort that a person is a saint the moment they walk through Heaven's gates. I mean, it's not like the person doesn't get the keys to the saints' washroom just because their papers haven't come through from Rome yet.

17 posted on 07/15/2006 4:42:42 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Larry Lucido

It's so true: Fervent prayer on the part of believers availeth much.

18 posted on 07/15/2006 8:42:43 PM PDT by Ciexyz (Leaning on the everlasting arms.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Pyro7480
American Catholic’s Saint of the Day


July 14, 2007
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and John de Brébeuf were tortured to death by Huron and Iroquois Indians, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York. She was to be the first person born in North America to be beatified.

Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes (missionaries), but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. She refused to marry a Mohawk brave and at 19 finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Kateri (Catherine) on Easter Sunday.

Now she would be treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, she received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people.

She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, she stole away one night and began a 200-mile walking journey to a Christian Indian village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.

For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity and in strenuous penance. At 23 she took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for an Indian woman, whose future depended on being married. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day—and was accused of meeting a man there!

Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: She did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an “ordinary” life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. She died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980.


We like to think that our proposed holiness is thwarted by our situation. If only we could have more solitude, less opposition, better health. Kateri repeats the example of the saints: Holiness thrives on the cross, anywhere. Yet she did have what Christians—all people—need: the support of a community. She had a good mother, helpful priests, Christian friends. These were present in what we call primitive conditions, and blossomed in the age-old Christian triad of prayer, fasting and alms: union with God in Jesus and the Spirit, self-discipline and often suffering, and charity for her brothers and sisters.


Kateri said: “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.”

19 posted on 07/14/2007 10:34:12 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-22 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson