Lifestyle & Belief

Kateri Tekakwitha, 'Lily of the Mohawks,' to be canonized a Catholic saint on Sunday


A wooden statue of Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th century Mohawk woman whom the Vatican will canonize this Sunday, October 21, 2012, seen in St. Peter's Chapel at the National Kateri Shrine in Fonda, New York. Kateri will become the first Native American saint in the Catholic church.



Kateri Tekakwitha, sometimes called the "Lily of the Mohawks," will be canonized by the Catholic Church on Sunday.

Tekakwitha will become the first-ever Native American saint. Some 1,500 Canadians are traveling to the Vatican to attend the ceremony, Agence France-Presse reported

Tekakwitha, whose father was Mohawk and mother Algonquin, lived more than 300 years ago in the United States and Canada.

Born in 1656, she lost her parents and younger brother during a smallpox outbreak, and survived with damaged eyesight and scarring.

The French army burned down her village in what is now upstate New York when she was 10 years old. Tekakwitha moved north to a mission along the St. Lawrence River in what is today Quebec.

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At St. Francois Xavier du Sault, she encountered a Mohawk community with about a dozen nuns, and converted to Catholicism by age 20, according to the Montreal Gazette.

She died at the young age of 24, and her body is enshrined in a marble tomb in Kahnawake, Quebec.

It was upon her death that the two miracles necessary to become a saint are to have happened: Tekakwitha’s facial scars from smallpox healed, and those who attended her funeral are also said to have been healed.

Tekakwitha was declared "venerable" by the church in 1943, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980.

Her qualifying miracle for sainthood, according to the Vatican, was curing a boy of a flesh-eating disease in 2006, the BBC said.

Pope Benedict XVI announced earlier this year that Tekakwitha would be among seven new saints canonized October 21 at the Vatican.

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