Saints and Holy People

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Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656–1680)

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656–1680)

Feast day: July 14

Kateri Tekakwitha, born in present-day Auriesville, New York, to a Christian Algonquin mother and a non-Christian Mohawk chief, was the first Native American to be canonized. When she was four, smallpox killed her parents and younger brother and left her disfigured and partially blind. She met Christian missionaries in later childhood, and through their influence was baptized in 1676.

Her new way of life made it difficult to remain in her village, so she walked 200 miles to live in a Christian village near Montreal. Having made a vow not to marry, she led a life of prayer, fasting, teaching, and service until her death at age 24.

Kateri surely had the gifts of wisdom and courage. She once said: “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure” (from Leonard Foley, Saint of the Day, page 154).

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