Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the Lily of the Mohawk, was born in 1656 of a captive Algonquin mother and an Iroquois chieftain.
Her mother was a Christian but dared not baptize Kateri or her younger brother.
When an epidemic of smallpox broke out in 1660, the little girl lost her mother and brother, perhaps also her father at that time; she herself nearly succumbed to the malady.
Her uncle, who adopted her, later wanted her to marry a young Iroquois her own age, but she refused, having already experienced the horror of the Iroquois brutalities.
When in 1675 Father Jacques de Lamberville, Jesuit missionary, discovered on the banks of the Mohawk River this beautiful lily, he transplanted her to the mission of St. Francis Xavier near Montreal, which had been founded a few years before.
She received her first Communion there on Christmas day of 1676.
In 1679, on the feast of the Annunciation, with the authorization of one of the Fathers at the mission, Kateri privately pronounced a vow of perpetual chastity and consecrated herself to the Blessed Virgin.
From that time on, she and her rosary were inseparable. Her health had never been strong, and her penances contributed to weakening it further.
It was during Holy Week of 1680 that this young Indian maiden quietly expired, invoking the names of Jesus and Mary.
Miracles and favors were attributed to her soon after her death.
In 1943, Pope Pius XII admitted the cause of beatification, approving the decree on the heroism of her virtues.
Saint Kateri had appeared to some Polish prisoners during World War II, telling them she was named a patron of their country and brought about their release.
They described to the Jesuits of their own country, the young Indian girl whom they had all seen in their vision, and learned who she was — Kateri, Lily of the Mohawk, the Canadian Indian girl who had attained sanctity very young and died at the age of 24 years.
She was beatified in 1980, canonized in 1991.
And Sainted by Pope Benedict VI 21 October, 2012
MORE ABOUT THIS AMAZING SAINT FROM THE VATICAN ARCHIVES…..
This wonderful crown of new blesseds, God’s bountiful gift to his Church, is completed by the sweet, frail yet strong figure of a young woman who died when she was only twenty-four years old: Kateri Tekakwitha, the “Lily of the Mohawks”, the Iroquois maiden, who in seventeenth century North America was the first to renew the marvels of sanctity of St. Scholastica, Saint Gertrude, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Angela Merici and Saint Rose of Lima, preceding, along the path of Love, her great spiritual sister, Therese of Child Jesus.
She spent her short life partly in what is now the State of New York and partly in Canada. She is a kind, gentle and hardworking person, spending her time working, praying, and meditating. At the age of twenty she receives Baptism. Even when following her tribe in the hunting seasons, she continues her devotions, before a rough cross carved by herself in the forest. When her family urges her to marry, she replies very serenely and calmly that she has Jesus as her only spouse.
This decision, in view of the social conditions of women in the Indian Tribes at the time, exposes Kateri to the risk of living as outcast and in poverty.
It is a bold, unusual and prophetic gesture: on 25 March, 1679, at the age of twenty-three, with the consent of her spiritual director, Kateri takes a vow of perpetual virginity – as far as we know the first time that this was done among the North American Indians.
The last months of her life are an ever clearer manifestation of her solid faith, straight-forward humility, calm resignation and radiant joy, even in the midst of terrible sufferings. Her last words, simple and sublime, whispered at the moment of her death, sum up, like a noble hymn, a life of purest charity: “Jesus, I love you….”.
The Church has declared to the world that Kateri Tekakwitha is blessed, that she lived a life on earth of exemplary holiness and that she is now a member in heaven of the Communion of Saints who continually intercede with the merciful Father on our behalf.
Her beatification should remind us that we are all called to a life of holiness, for in Baptism, God has chosen each one of us “to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence”. (Eph. 1:4) Holiness of life-union with Christ through prayer and works of charity – is not something reserved to a select few among the members of the Church. It is the vocation of everyone.
(Homily of Pope John Paul II for her beatification on June 22, 1980 at Rome)
(SOURCE: Libreria Editrice Vaticana)