Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656 to April 17, 1680)

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 22, 1980. Since she will be the first Native American saint, I was curious to learn more about her, so took a road trip to the National Kateri Shrine in Fonda, New York in August 2004.
She was born in 1656 to a Mohawk chief father and a Catholic Algonquin mother near Auriesville, New York. When she was four-years-old she contracted the small pox. The disease killed her parents and brother and caused Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha to have a scarred face and poor eyesight.
She was adopted by an uncle and two aunts. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was baptized at age 20 and because of this, she endured hostility from her tribe. Eventually she moved to the new Christian colony of Native people in Canada.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha cared for the sick and elderly and was devoted to the Eucharist and the Crucified Jesus. She died at age 24 in Kahnawake near Montreal, Canada on April 17, 1680. The people who witnessed her death saw the scars on her face disappear, including a pair of French trappers who knew her from many years earlier. They dropped to their knees and cried.
Then, the Frenchmen built her a wooden coffin, put her inside, and carried her to the riverbank.
When I was 12-years-old my parents took our family on a vacation to Quebec, Canada. We went to Ste. Anne de Beaupre Shrine and there was a beautiful statue outside of a Native American girl. It was Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
In 1994, I visited the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano in California. I wanted to go there since I was in third grade and learned about the swallows that return every March 19 (St. Joseph's Day and also my cousin Cindy's birthday ) Thirteen years later a large statue in which Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is depicted was put up behind the main altar.
Pray to her and she will help you. The more you pray, the quicker she will become a saint. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha's feast day is July 14.

"Oh God who among the many marvels of your grace in the New World did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and 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 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. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen."

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