Kateri Tekakwitha also known as Catherine Tekakwitha/Takwita, was born in 1656 in Gandahouhague, on the south bank of the Mohawk River, in a village called Ossernenon. The Mohawks were known as the fiercest of the "Five Nations" of the Iroquois. War was waged between the Mohawks and Algonquins. Kateri's mother, a christian Algonquin, was taken captive by a Mohawk warrior and soon they were married. They had a happy life together and eventually had a girl. They named her Tekakwitha, which means "she who moves forward". When she was four years old, a smallpox epidemic claimed the lives of her parents and baby brother. Their names are unknown. Kateri survived the disease but her eyesight was impaired. Her face was scarred and the disease left her weak the rest of her life. After five years of the sickness, the survivors of the village moved to the north bank of the river to begin a new life. Tekakwitha and her relatives moved into the Turtle Clan village called Gandaouague.
She was then raised by aunts and an uncle, the Chief of the Turtle Clan.
In 1667 the Jesuit missionaries Fremin, Bruyas, and Pierron spent three days in the lodge of Tekakwutga's uncle. They had accompanied the Mohawk delegation who had been to Quebec to conclude peace with the French. From the Blackrobes she received her first knowledge of Christianity.
In 1670 the Blackrobes established St. Peter's Mission in Caughnawaga now Fonda, NY.
In 1674, Fr. James de Lamberville arrived to take charge of the mission which included the Turtle Clan.
Tekakwitha met Father de Lamberville when he visited her home. She told him about her desire to become baptized. Despite opposition to Christianity from her tribe and particularly her uncle, she met with the Blackrobe in secret. She began to take religious instructions. On Easter Sunday, April 5, 1676, at the age of 20, she was baptized and given the name Kateri, Indian for Katherine. Her family wanted her to abandon her religion. She became the subject of increased contempt from the people of her village for her conversion, as well as her refusal to work on Sundays or to marry. She practice her religion unflinchingly in the face of almost unbearable opposition. Finally her uncle's lodge ceased to be a place of protection to her.
With the help of Christian Indians she fled her village. Two months later and about two hundred miles through woods, rivers and swamps, Kateri arrived at the Sault.
On Christmas Day, 1677, Kateri received her first Holy Communion. Here she lived in the cabin of a Christian Indian, Mary Teresa Tegaiaguenta. She and Kateri became friends. Both girls performed extraordinary penance. Kateri and her friend asked permission to start a religious community. The request was denied.
At Caughnawaga she contributed to the community's economy while engaging in great personal sacrifices. She also continued to keep her personal vow of chastity.
In 1678, Kateri was enrolled in the pious society called The Holy Family because of her extraordinary practices of all virtues.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha died on April 17, 1680, when she was 24 years of age. When she died, much to the amazement of those in attendance, all the disfiguring scars on her face miraculously disappeared.
Pope John Paul II beatified her in Rome on June 22, 1980, in the presence of hundreds of North American Indians. She is now known to us as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha died on April 17, 1680, when she was 24 years of age. In the past, we commemorated her Feast Day on the day of her death. April 17 often falls during the season of Lent or during Easter Week. When the Bishops of the United States gathered for their fall meeting in Washington, DC, in November 1982, they voted to change the day of observance of the Feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha to July 14th. The new feast day will enable the Church in the United States to celebrate and honor Blessed Kateri without the feast day overlapping with the season of Lent. We prayerfully await the day that our Holy Father proclaims her Saint Kateri.
Kateri Tekakwitha, our "Lily of the Mohawks."
~ ~PRAYER FOR CANONIZATION~ ~
"O God, who among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of 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 of 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. Through the same Christ Our Lord.
~ Amen ~
~ ~ NOVENA MEDITATION THOUGHTS ~ ~
Day I ~ Prayer ~ Union with God
"The Prayer" was the Mohawk name for religion; "praying Indian" the name for a Christian Indian. All was open in an Indian Village, and the priests had to pray publicly. Their converts assembled in the chapel for prayer. Prayer is union with God, and what else is religion?
When Tekakwitha saw the missionaries at prayer in her uncle's cabin, the sight irresistibly attracted her. It helped to unite her with God, until her life became an act of prayer, of union with God.
Day II ~ Grace ~ A Child of God
Grace is the thought that comes with mention of Tekakwitha. Unbaptized until her twentieth year, through no fault of her parents or her own, she still was a child of grace, which means that she grew up in God's favor. She did all the good she could to retain God's favor. Kateri was a child of grace. May we, like Our Lord, grow in wisdom, age and grace!
Day III ~ Holiness ~ Heroic Virtues
Holy are those whose faith, hope and charity are extraordinary, who cultivate the virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, and the good habits which grow out of these: prayer, humility, obedience, patience, resignation, penance. In all these Tekakwitha excelled.
Day IV ~ Names of Kateri
All her names inspire admiration and affection. Kateri, Iroquois form of Catherine, her baptismal name, means pure, and she was purity itself.
"Lily of the Mohawks." Lily is the emblem of purity. She is known as "The Good Catherine", because so many have received favors by invoking her.
St. Genevieve had saved Paris of Old France; Kateri was named Genevieve of New France after she had saved the mission and the missionaries.
Tekakwitha means "putting things in order", or "moving before her". She put order among her people, and moves all by answers to prayer.
This flower of our American wildwood is already Blessed; may she soon be named Saint!
Day V ~ Innocence
One who is innocent will harm nobody, nor see evil in others; will not shock, scandalize or grieve them, but give them edification, pleasure, and win their admiration and affection.She remained innocent: thought no evil, harbored no suspicion, entertained no ill-will, as if she were not of this world.
Day VI ~ The Blessed Sacrament
Out from her Caughnawaga cabin at dawn and straight-way to chapel to adore the Blessed Sacrament, hear every Mass; back again during the day to hear instruction, and at night for a last prayer or Benediction. Her neighbors sought to be near her when she received Holy Communion, as her manner excited devotion.
Day VII ~ The Cross
Tekakwitha loved the image of the Cross. During the hunt she made an oratory in the woods by cutting a cross in the bark of a tree. The first picture of her, the only portrait of an Indian of that long ago, represents her venerating a small cross. It moved her to do penance in order to imitate Our Lord in His Passion.
Day VIII ~ The Blessed Virgin
The faithful Indian convert women would tell her how affectionate her mother was. That would help her to know how affectionate the Mother of Christ was and still is in heaven. The rosary and the Litany were favorite prayers of hers. More than once she walked or canoed ten miles from her Mohawk village, Caughnawaga, to Tionontoguen, where the statue of Our Lady was venerated under the title, Virgin Most Faithful.
Day IX ~ Invocation
Although we are not yet permitted to express publicly the belief that Tekakwitha is among the Saints in Heaven, it is our private belief and we pray that the Church may soon declare it. While awaiting this, we invoke her aid. Wonderful are the favors attributed to her. While praying for our own needs, we should pray for her canonization.
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~~ Credits ~~Excerpts taken from writings of:
Sarah Hassenplug - Mohawk,
Evelyn M. Brown from the Vision books of Saints,
Blanche M. Kelly
Silverhawk made the two small bars especially for this pape.
Thank you Sam!
Last Updated on July 2, 2005 by Who Else....PurpleHawk