Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Home Is Where You Find Acceptance

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, July 14, 2017

This painting by Father Claude Chauchetière, S.J. (circa 1696) is one of the oldest portraits of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-80) was orphaned at age four when smallpox attacked her village, and claimed her parents’ and baby brother’s lives. The disease’s ravages left her permanently weakened, scarred, partially blind, and photo sensitive to the extent that the sun blinded her and caused her to feel her way around as she walked.

She probably never imagined the role she would have in her generation and beyond.

When Saint Kateri was 18, a Jesuit missionary, Father Jacques de Lamberville (1641–1710), established a chapel in Caughnawaga, on the north bank of the Mohawk River, which today is near Fonda, New York. Kateri was fascinated by the new stories she heard about Jesus Christ, vaguely remembered her mother’s whispered prayers, wanted to learn more about Him, and to become a Christian.

Having been adopted by extended family, Kateri’s uncle, a Kanienkehaka chief, allowed her to attend religious instructions taught by Father de Lamberville, and the following Easter, she was baptized, and became Catholic at age 21.

Not everyone accepted her choice to embrace Christ. Following her baptism, Kateri became a village outcast, and some members of her family refused her food on Sundays because she wouldn’t work that day. Some children would taunt and throw stones at her. She was even threatened with torture or death if she did not renounce her  newfound faith.

Facing increasing hostility from her people and because she wanted to devote her life to Jesus, in July 1677 Kateri left her village and made a two months journey of over 200 miles through the wilderness to the Catholic mission of St. Francis Xavier at Sault Saint-Louis, near Montreal, Canada. She was steadfastly determined in her undying faith, and received her First Holy Communion on Christmas Day that same year. There she also taught children, cared for the poor, sick, and elderly, and was widely known to speak words of kindness to everyone she encountered.

Kateri was declared venerable in 1943, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980 who also designated Blessed Kateri as a patroness for World Youth Day in 2002. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI October 21, 2012, and became the first Native North American saint. Her feast day is celebrated July 14th (today) in the United States and on April 17th in Canada.

Saint Kateri’s tomb is at St. Francis Xavier Mission in the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, near Montreal, Quebec.

Saint Kateri is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” is the special patroness of Catholic Native Americans and her story has united native peoples across North America. When the yoke seems heaviest, may we too find reason to hope in Christ.

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2 Responses to “Home Is Where You Find Acceptance”

  1. Back in 2013, I went to a “Native American Mass” at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Adamsville, Alabama near Birmingham. It was on St. Tekawitha’s feast day (I think it was the first year that her feast day had been named). They have a beautiful shrine to her out there there and they even have a Tekawitha Circle that meets at the church. Thanks for remembering her on her feast day!

    Liked by 1 person

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