Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

For centuries the Roman Catholic Church and its missionaries have interacted with the Mohawk people. The Saint Regis Mohawks, as their name reflects, have had a close association with the Church for more than 200 years. While some aspects of that association were not very positive, one particular part of the relationship is a source of pride and inspiration for most Mohawks. More than 300 years ago a young Mohawk woman embraced the Catholic faith and carried out works of charity and benevolence among her people for most of her very short life.

Her name was Kateri Tekakwitha. Kateri, the Iroquois form of Catherine (her baptized name), means pure and Tekakwitha translated means putting things in order. Her very name signifies the mission for which her life and death are now remembered.

The poor health which plagued her throughout her life and caused her violent pain effected her death in 1680 at the tender age of 24 years. The Roman Catholic Church has honored Kateri Tekakwitha for her devotion to Christ and her commitment to charity and chastity. The present day Mohawk Catholics have prayed and worked to see Kateri canonized as a saint.

In 1943, the Vatican bestowed the title venerable on Kateri, this was the first step toward canonization. In June 1980, she was beatified and known as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. In October 2012, hundreds of Mohawks and other Catholic Indian people from throughout the United States and Canada journeyed to the Vatican in Rome Italy to see Kateri elevated to full status as a saint. The cannonization of Kateri Tekakwitha took place on October 21, 2012 with six other candidates.

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