St. Kateri Tekakwitha
At times, it may seem that all saints were older, from Europe, and lived as priests or nuns. However, this is not the case! St. Kateri Tekakwitha is one such example. St. Kateri’s life is unique in many ways; but perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that she is the first Native American to be canonized a saint.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 to an Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father (who was also a chief), in upstate New York. At the age of four, her parents and brother died of smallpox. St. Kateri survived; however, the disease left her badly scarred and with impaired vision. It was because of her poor eyesight that she was called “Tekakwitha” which means “she who bumps into things.” After the death of her family, her uncle took her in to raise her. At age eight, she was paired with a young boy whom she was supposed to marry one day, as was Iroquois custom. St. Kateri did not want to marry the boy, for she wanted to dedicate her life to God. Her uncle was opposed to Christianity because he did not trust the settlers who taught the Faith, since it was through settlers that the Native Americans had also come in contact with smallpox and other diseases.
When St. Kateri was ten years old, a war broke out between the Native Americans and the French. Many of the Mohawks were killed, and their civilizations destroyed. The survivors moved to a new location, in Caughnawaga (which is where her shrine is located in present day). At age eighteen, St. Kateri began to study the Catholic Faith in secret. When she wanted to be baptized, she had to gain permission from her uncle. He agreed to allow her to be baptized under the condition that she would not leave their village. After her baptism, St. Kateri was ridiculed by those in her village. People made false accusations against her, and her life was threatened. St. Kateri escaped to the St. Francis Xavier mission in Canada, which was settlement of Christian Indians. She became known for her pleasant personality, her good works, and her sense of humor.
At age twenty-one, St. Kateri received her first holy communion. The day was Christmas Day, 1677. Later, in 1679, on the feast of the Annunciation, she made a vow of perpetual virginity. She offered herself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking her to become her own mother. St. Kateri spent her time teaching prayers to children, working with the elderly and the sick, and attending Mass. She had great devotion to the Eucharist and the Cross of Christ.
St. Kateri began to experience great suffering as the result of a serious illness. She died on April 17th, 1680, just before her 24th birthday. Her last words were, “Jesus - Mary - I love you.” It is said that shortly after her death, the scars and pockmarks that had been left behind by the smallpox she suffered as a child began to fade away, leaving behind a beautiful face that shone with loveliness. Prior to her death, St. Kateri had told her friends that she would pray for them from heaven. Both Native Americans and the settlers began to pray for her intercession, which led to miracles being attributed to her. Fifty years after the death of St. Kateri, a convent was founded in Mexico for Indian nuns who prayed for the canonization of St. Kateri. Their prayers were finally answered on October 21, 2012, when St. Kateri was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XVI. St. Kateri Tekakwith is the first Native American to be given that honor. She is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks” for her great purity. Her feast day is July 14.
Patronage of St. Kateri Tekakwitha
St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the patron saint of the environment, the loss of parents, people in exile, people ridiculed for their piety, and World Youth Day.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Art
Images of St. Kateri Tekakwitha depict her as a young Native American woman, dressed in traditional costume of her tribe. She is often outdoors, which symbolizes the Native American culture of respect for the environment in which she was raised. Sometimes she is holding a cross or lilies, which tell of her devotion to Christ and the purity with which she lived her life.
Religious Medals of St. Kateri Tekakwitha
St. Kateri Tekakwitha is generally portrayer in Religious medal as a serene young woman in native american clothing. Frequently shown holding a lily, a reference to "lily of the Mohawks" a tile given to her.
Prayers of St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Prayer to St. Kateri Tekakwitha
St. Kateri, Star of Native People and Bright Light for all! We thank God for your heroic courage, constant perseverance and deep love of the Cross. Pray for us that our love for Christ may deepen. And may we imitate you in following God's Will even when difficulties arise. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Prayer to St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Lord God, You called the virgin Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, to shine among the American Indian people as an example of innocence of life. Through her intercession, may all peoples of every tribe, tongue and nation, having been gathered into Your Church, proclaim your greatness in one song of praise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Novena Prayer to St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Kateri, favored child, Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks, We come to seek your intercession in our present need: (mention it here).
We admire the virtues which adorned your soul: love of God and neighbor, humility, obedience, patience, purity and the spirit of sacrifice. Help us to imitate your example in our life. Through the goodness and mercy of God, Who has blessed you with so many graces which led you to the true faith and to a high degree of holiness, pray to God for us and help us.
Obtain for us a very fervent devotion to the Holy Eucharist so that we may love Holy Mass as you did and receive Holy Communion as often as we can. Teach us also to be devoted to our crucified Savior as you were, that we may cheerfully bear our daily crosses for love of Him Who suffered so much for love of us. Most of all we beg you to pray that we may avoid sin, lead a holy life and save our souls. Amen.
In thanksgiving to God for the graces bestowed upon Kateri: one Our Father, Hail Mary and three Glory Be's. Kateri, Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks, pray for us.
A Child’s Prayer to St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Kateri, loving child of God and Lily of the Mohawks, I thank God for the many graces He gave you. Help me to be more like you in my love for God and for people.
Give me a great love for the Holy Eucharist and the Mother of Jesus. Make me ready to make sacrifices for Jesus that I may save my soul and be happy with you in heaven.
Kateri, I love you. Always be my friend.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.