The Mohawk chief's daughter set to become a saint:
Extraordinary story of 17th-century Native American girl honoured by the
- Kateri 'Caterina' Tekakwitha lived from 1656 to
1680 in New York and Canada
- Cared for elderly and sick and also taught
children to pray in her short life
- Both parents and brother died from smallpox when
she was aged only four
- 17th-century woman among seven Catholic saints
approved by the Pope
- Hawaii's Mother Marianne of
Molokai from 19th-century also on new list
She had a tough start - born into a
family who all died when she was aged four, brought up by an uncle who
hated Christianity and named 'one who bumps into things' because of her
But Caterina Tekakwitha, a
17th-century Native American who cared for the elderly and sick and
lived from 1656-1680 in New York and Canada, became the first Native
American to be beatified in 1980 and has now been approved by Pope
Benedict XVI as one of seven new
Caterina is joined on the list by
Mother Marianne of Hawaii, who cared for leprosy patients on Hawaii's
Molokai peninsula in the 1880s.
Saint: Caterina Tekakwitha lived from
1656-1680 in the U.S. and Canada, and became the first Native
American to be beatified in 1980
Caterina, also known as Kateri
Tekakwitha, has a national shrine located in Fonda, New York, where she
lived as a teenager.
She was born in 1656 in nearby
Auriesville but her parents - one of whom was a Mohawk Chief named
Kenneronkwa - and brother died of smallpox when she was aged only four.
Caterina survived but was given the
unfortunate surname because of her poor vision - as it literally means
‘she who bumps into things’.
She was looked after by her uncle, a
Turtle Clan chief who hated Christianity, but a conflict moved her four
miles north-west to Caughnawaga, New York, aged ten.
'Gentle and kind': Caterina, also known as
Kateri Tekakwitha, has a national shrine located in Fonda, New York,
where she lived as a teenager
Despite her disfigured face from
smallpox, a number of men were interested in marrying her. But
Caterina decided to stay celibate because she believed they only
wanted her for political gain.
It was as she thought more about
the potential of a loveless marriage, she started to find out about
Her mother had given her a set of
rosary prayer beads but her uncle had taken them away because he did
not want her to become a Catholic. But she became more and more
interested in the faith.
Caterina then began Catholic
teaching in secret aged 18. Her uncle eventually allowed this as
long as she stayed in their village.
Remembered: The National Kateri Shrine
and Native American Museum is pictured in Fonda, New York
She was persecuted by her fellow
villagers for joining the faith but soon escaped to the Mission of St.
Francis Xavier - a Canadian settlement.
'ONE WHO BUMPS INTO
Tekakwitha, Caterina Tekakwitha or 'Lily of the Mohawks'
Place of birth:
Auriesville, New York, USA
Place of burial:
Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada
Known for: Teaching
children, caring for elderly/sick
kind and humourous
was known for her gentleness, kindness, and good humour, according to
the website of her shrine in Fonda.
She vowed to stay a virgin for her
whole life in 1679 in Canada and taught children to pray, as well as
working with the elderly and sick.
She died in 1680 after a serious
illness and was buried in Quebec, Canada. She was said to appear to many
people after her death and held responsible for miracles.
Legend has it that just minutes after
she died she shone brightly and all the marks from smallpox vanished
from her face, revealing her true beauty.
Caterina is highly-regarded in
Catholicism because of her commitment to helping others despite all the
persecution and illness she suffered herself.