Perhaps St. Kateri Tekakwitha (pronounced Gah-deh-lee Deh-gah-quee-tah in Mohawk) is not as well known as many of the other saints we see and recognize in our Feasting throughout the year, but for us she is special because she was born not so far away from where we live. Because where she lived is so close, we have had the opportunity to visit two NY Shrines that honor her: the St. Kateri Takakwitha Shrine in Fonda, NY and the Shine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, NY. A relatively new saint, being canonized only last year on October 21st, she is the first North American Native American woman saint.
Kateri was born in 1956 near present day Auriesville, NY to a Mohawk father and a Catholic Algonquin mother. When she was very young, a smallpox epidemic hit her village, and she was left orphaned, scarred physically, and with bad eyesight. Dutifully, relatives took her in. She later moved across the river to a village near what is now Fonda, NY. As she reached adulthood, her family pressured her to marry, but she remained strong in her desire to stay a virgin.
Around the age of 17, she began learning more about the Catholic faith from the Jesuit missionaries. Father Jacques de Lamberville began catechizing her and deemed her ready for Baptism at the age of 20. This was significant because the Jesuit missionaries were hesitant to baptize new converts because it was difficult to tell how committed they would remain. Persecuted by others living in her village because of her new Faith, the Jesuits encouraged her to move to a colony of Christian Indians in Canada, which she did. She was sickly and died on the 17th of April in 1680. Her final words were, "Jesus, I love you."
St. Kateri is the patron saint of the environment and ecology, and she is often known as the "Lily of the Mohawks," because of her virginity and piety.
I don't have a lot prepared for this Feast Day, but I wanted to share the few things I had found, and I would love to hear if you celebrate this Saint on Sunday and what you did! So, please share. =)
First, token photos of our crazy little family visiting the Shrines:
Last summer at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda, NY
and a week ago at the Shrine for the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, NY
Here are a few native Mohawk dishes to celebrate St. Kateri's heritage!
Mohawk Corn Bread from Catholic Culture
Mohawk Milk Cake from Hi Cookery
Other appropriate foods would include venison, small game (if you eat it!), fish, corn, beans, squash, and so on!
Crafts + Activities
Catholic Icing, ever ready with amazing ideas, had this great post a craft project originally to celebrate St. Kateri's canonization, but it would be perfect for her feast day as well. Lacy also has this wonderful gathering of links to other crafts, activities, + coloring pages.
Here are a couple other great craft ideas over on Family at the Foot of the Cross's blog. I love love love her toilet paper tube version of the Saint. How creative is that?
Love this coloring page from Happy Saints. So fun!
In closing, here is the Prayer for the Canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha. I thought it was very lovely.
O God, who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession, that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among the Saints of Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.
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