Today is the feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, patroness of the environment and ecology, and the first Native American saint!
The “Lily of the Mohawks” was a virgin of the Mohawk tribe. Her parents and brother died of smallpox when she was four years old, and so she was adopted by her aunt. Smallpox still dotted her face and impaired her eyesight. Despite these obstacles, Tekakwitha shunned all marriage proposals and lived chastely.
In 1667, Jesuit missionaries arrived at her tribe, and it was then that she converted to Christianity, accepting baptism later.
Shunned and abused by relatives for her faith, Tekakwitha escaped to a cabin where she practiced austere mortifications and is said to have experienced union with God in prayer. Upon her death, a devotion to her started immediately among her people.
Today many pilgrims visit her grave in Caughnawaga, Quebec where a monument to her memory was erected in 1884. Pope John Paul II beatified her June 22, 1980. Pope Benedict XVI canonized her on October 21, 2012.
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