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July 14

St. Kateri Tekakwitha - Jul 14

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

“Lily of the Mohawks”

(1656 – 1680)

I am very affected by the three nails which fasted Our Lord to the cross; they are but a symbol of my sins.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint’s Life Story

Daughhter of a Mohawk Chief

Kateri was born in 1656 in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon near the town of Auriesville, New York. She was the daughter Kenneronkwa, a Mohawk chief, and Kahenta, an Algonquin Christian woman, who had been captured in a raid, then adopted and assimilated into the tribe.

Orphaned by Smallpox

She was four-years-old when her parents and younger brother died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri, scarring her face and damaging her eyesight. The Jesuits’ account of Tekakwitha said that she was a modest girl who avoided social gatherings; she covered much of her head with a blanket because of the smallpox scars. Due to her poor vision, Kateri was named “Tekakwitha”, which means “she who bumps into things”.

Adopted and Pressured to Marriage

Kateri was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle, who was strongly opposed to Christianity. As was the custom, she was pressured to consider marriage around age thirteen, but she refused.

Met Jesuit Priest

In the spring of 1674, at age eighteen, Tekakwitha met the Jesuit priest Jacques de Lamberville, who was visiting the village. Tekakwitha told him her story and her desire to become a Christian. After this, she started secretly studying the catechism with him. Her uncle finally relented and gave his permission for Kateri to become a Christian, provided that she did not try to leave the Indian village.

Baptized and Named Kateri

Father Lamberville baptized Tekakwitha at the age of 19, on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1676. Tekakwitha was renamed “Catherine” after St. Catherine of Siena (Kateri was the Mohawk form of the name). For joining the Catholic Church, she was ridiculed and reviled. She even received death threats from members of her own tribe. They also treated her like a slave. For example, when she refused to work on Sunday, she received no food that day. 

Fled to Canada

Although she suffered greatly for her Faith, she remained steadfast in it. On the advice of a Father Lamberville, she fled from her village and walked over 300 miles to a settlement of Christian Indians, near Montreal, Canada. The St. Francis Xavier settlement became her new home. Here, she was known for her gentleness, generosity, and virtuous character.

Deeply Devoted Dedicated to Care of Sick and Poor

She lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance, and care for the sick and elderly. She was deeply devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus Crucified.  At 23, she made a vow of virginity, a heroic and unprecedented act for a Native American woman, who was expected to marry to insure her future survival. She also consecrated herself to the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Her Death

She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. Her last words were: “Jesus — Mary — I love you.” Witnesses stated that within minutes of her death, the pock marks from the smallpox completely disappeared and her face lit up with radiant beauty. She is often referred to as a lily, a traditional symbol of purity associated with the Virgin Mary. Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada.

Born:                    1656 in Ossemenon, New York

Died:                     April 17, 1680 in Kahanawke, Quebec, Canada

Beatified:            June 22, 1980 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized:         October 21, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI

Feast Day:          April 17, July 14 (US)

Patron Saint:    Canada; Ecology; Environment; Exiles; Loss of Parents; Native Americans; Orphans

Sources:

Reflection

We like to think that our proposed holiness is thwarted by our situation. If only we could have more solitude, less opposition, better health. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha 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 helpful priests and Christian friends. These people were present in what we call primitive conditions. Her faith blossomed in the age-old Christian triad of prayer, fasting and almsgiving combined with union with God in Jesus and the Spirit, self-discipline and often suffering, and charity for her brothers and sisters.

Does your holiness thrive or do you think it is thwarted? Start (or continue) with prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These acts do not mean that you will avoid suffering, but with support of your community your holiness with thrive.

Source: Adapted from Saint Kateri Tekakwitha | Franciscan Media

Prayers

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha,

Lily of the Mohawks and shining example of faith, you embraced Christianity and devoted your life to Jesus Christ, despite the challenges and trials you faced.

You remained steadfast in your love for God, and your heart overflowed with compassion for others.

Through your intercession, pray for us, that we may have the courage to follow Christ faithfully, even in the face of adversity and misunderstanding.

May we imitate your virtues of humility, purity, and love for nature, and may we grow in our love for God and our fellow human beings.

Protect and intercede for all Native peoples, that they may find hope, healing, and strength in their cultural heritage and in the love of Jesus Christ.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us, that we may be inspired by your holy life, and that one day, we may join you in praising God’s glory in heaven.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha , pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – How St. Kateri led many Native Americans to Jesus Christ

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 14 July – Saint Kateri ‘Catherine’ Tekakwitha (1656–1680) “Lily of the Mohawks”

Angelus News – Saint of the day: St Kateri Tekakwitha

Canada National Saint Kateri Shrine – Prayers

Catholic Culture – Catholic Prayer: Litany of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Catholic Exchange – How A ‘Mohawk Saint’ Can Inspire Us All

Catholic Ireland – Jul 14 – St Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

Catholic News Agency – St. Kateri Tekakwitha Feast Day: Jul 14

Catholic OnlineSt. Kateri Tekakwitha

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Independent Catholic News – Kateri Tekakwitha: first Native North American Saint

Loyola Press – Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Retreat

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha National Shrine

Saint Mary Press – Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint of the Day – Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Video Link

St. Kateri Tekakwitha – YouTube (Catholic Online)