Thursday, July 14, 2016
Feast Day: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Died: April 17, 1680
Venerable by the Catholic Church: 1943
Beatified by Pope John Paul II: June 22, 1980
Canonized by Pope Benedict XVI: October 21, 2012
Feast Day: July 14
Kateri Tekakwitha was the daughter of a Mohawk chief and a Catholic Algonquin woman, Kahenta. She was born in 1656 in the Mohawk fortress of Ossernenon near present day Auriesville, New York. When Tekakwitha was four years old, a smallpox epidemic swept through Ossernenon leaving her face badly scarred, and her eye-sight compromised. The outbreak took the lives of her baby brother and both her parents. Her uncle, a chief of the Turtle Clan, adopted her.
Although Tekakwitha was not baptized as an infant, she had fond memories of her mother and the stories of the Catholic faith. When she was eighteen a Jesuit missionary came to her village to establish a chapel. Her uncle disliked the “Blackrobes” and their new religion, but tolerated the missionary presence. At twenty years old Tekakwitha was baptized on Easter Sunday and given the name Kateri which means Catherine in Mohawk.
When increasing hostility from her people was too much to live with, Kateri fled through woods, rivers and swamps to the Catholic mission of St. Francis Xavier in Sault Saint-Louis, near Montreal, Canada over 200 miles away.
Out of complete devotion to Jesus, Kateri spent her life unmarried. She prayed the rosary always and loved wearing the beads around her neck. On April 17, 1680 at age 23, Kateri died. Upon her death, her scarred face miraculously cleared. This miracle was witness by two Jesuit priest and others that were in the room when she died. She was declared venerable by the Catholic Church in 1943 and beatified on June 22, 1980 by Pope John Paul II.