Kateri Tekakwitha becomes North America's first aboriginal saint
Kateri Tekakwitha, a woman credited with life-saving miracles, has
become North America's first aboriginal saint after a canonization
mass at the Vatican.
Tekakwitha was among the seven saints Pope Benedict XVI added to
the roster of Catholic role models Sunday morning as he tries to
rekindle the faith in places where it's lagging.
Aboriginal Canadians and Americans in traditional dress sang
songs to Kateri as the sun rose over St. Peter's Square.
They joined pilgrims from around the world at the Mass and
cheered when Benedict, in Latin, declared each of the seven new
saints worthy of veneration by the church.
Tekakwitha, who is also known as ``Lily of the Mohawks,'' was
born in New York state in 1656 before fleeing to a settlement north
of the border to escape opposition to her Christianity.
She died in 1680 at the age of 24. Her body is entombed in a
marble shrine at the St. Francis-Xavier Church in Kahnawake, a
Montreal-area Mowhawk community that was expected be well
represented among the 1,500 Canadian pilgrims set to attend the
The process for her canonization began in the 1880s and
Tekakwitha was eventually beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement recognizing the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha:
Today in Vatican City, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was declared a Saint by Pope Benedict XVI, making her North America’s first Aboriginal Saint.
Saint Kateri – also known as ‘Lily of the Mohawks’ – was bestowed the highest honour of the Catholic Church in recognition of her remarkable virtue and determination, and her unwavering devotion to God.
Born in 1656 in what is now New York State, Saint Kateri was persecuted for the faith she held so tenaciously and relocated to a Christian Mohawk village in what is now Kahnawake, Quebec, where she perished at the tender age of 24.
Throughout her short life, Saint Kateri never abandoned her faith. She taught prayers to children, cared for the sick and the elderly, and often attended mass both at sunrise and sunset.
Today, a number of shrines in both Canada and the U.S. are dedicated to Saint Kateri, including the site of her burial at the St. Francis Xavier Mission in Kahnawake, Quebec.
The canonization of Saint Kateri is a great honour and joyous occasion for the many North Americans and Aboriginal peoples who cherish her witness of faith and strength of character. The Government of Canada stands with those who are celebrating her life on this day in Canada, the United States and throughout the world.
(The Canadian Press)