St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Friends in Christ, in 1647, the missionaries Isaac Jogues and John Brebeuf were tortured to death by Huron and Iroquois Indians. Just a few years later in upstate New York, a little Indian girl named Kateri was born.
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Her mother was an Algonquin Indian who was a Christian; but she was taken captive by the Iroquois, and then given as a wife to the chief of the Mohawks. When she was 4 years old, little Kateri lost her parents and little brother to smallpox, and that also left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief of the Mohawks.
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Hearing the Christian Faith preached by a Jesuit missionary, Kateri thought of converting, but she hesitated out of fear of her uncle. Nevertheless, at age 20, she announced that she would become a Catholic. She was baptized with the name Kateri, meaning Catherine, on Easter Sunday.
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Pressured to marry a Mohawk, she refused. She was therefore shunned by her relatives. Her life was filled with hardship. disowned by her family, she was treated as a slave. Yet, it was at this time that her spiritual life grew quickly; She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. For 3 years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest, giving herself to God in long hours of prayer and spending herself in helping the needy.
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At age 23 she took a vow of virginity. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour each day. Finally, one night she slipped away and began a 200 mile walking journey to a Christian village near Montreal.
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Kateri practiced extreme fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation, and today many Native Americans are Catholic. She was devoted to the Holy Eucharist and to Jesus Crucified, and is called the ‘Lily of the Mohawks.’ At her death, witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. Even the pockmarks on her face from sickness disappeared, and the touch of a smile came upon her lips.
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Pray for us, Lily of the Mohawks, that God’s grace will bring a new flowering of the gospel in our land.  

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