Portrait Kateri Tegawitha
St Patrick Cathedral - New York City
AKnown as the Lily of the Mohawks, Kateri is the first Native American to be declared Blessed. Her father was a Mohawk chief and her mother, a Christian, was of the Algonquins. Kateri’s parents and brother died in a smallpox epidemic when she was four, and the disease left her with a disfigured face and poor eyesight. She was raised by an uncle but refused to marry, to the distress of her family.
In 1676 she was baptized by a Jesuit missionary and was immediately persecuted for her new faith. So that she might live in pace, she trekked two hundred miles through the forests to a Christian Indian village in Canada.
Kateri cared for the sick and elderly, attended two Masses daily, and was devoted to the Eucharist and to the crucified Christ.
In 1679, she took a vow of chastity. A missionary who knew her wrote: “She had an insatiable thirst for spiritual knowledge, and a great zeal to put in practice all she understood. Her soul was well disposed toward perfection.”
She died at the age of twenty-four.
Feast: April 17.