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The story of Mohawk saint, Kateri Tekakwitha

Updated on March 22, 2015

A brave girl in a cruel world.


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A brave young lady has reached sainthood!

The Lilly of The Mohawks-

In 1656, in the Mohawk Village of Ossernenon near Auriesville N.Y., a young Mohawk was born into the Turtle Clan. Little did anyone know on that day, she was to become the most famous Mohawk, and the first American Indian to be canonized a saint by the Catholic Church. She came down with smallpox, at the age of four, and though she survived with some scarring and partial blindness (especially in the bright sun), her parents and younger brother, did not. Her Uncle, a chief in the Turtle Clan, adopted her and protected her. She needed his protection because though she was born in "the longhouse" she became a Christian/Catholic, and taught other children to love Jesus.

NOTE- In those days the Jesuits were expected to write back to their headquarters, and report of all happenings during their missions. These letters are now in volumes known as the Jesuit Relations. Since she was considered to be blessed and "saintly", very little was written about her in these volumes. She was considered to be too sacred of a person for the priests to write about! They believed that one day she would be a saint.

Right around the same time that she was born, a Jesuit Mission, known as "Sainte Marie (St. Mary) among the Iroquois" was built on Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, N.Y.. One of the priests there, Fr. Fremin, came back to Haudenosuanee (Iroquois) territory to teach his religion to new converts. The most notable of his students was Tekakwitha. She was only 8, but was already a believer and her divinity was considered to be very noticeable at that point. She taught other children, and was known for making wooden crosses and placing them in the forest near her village.When some of the Mohawks scoffed at what Fr. Fremin taught, Kateri, picked up a white Lilly and said, "See this white blossom? I will keep my soul this pure for The Great Master". Fremin was said to have been moved beyond words by this little girl!

Later, the village was burned down and a new one was built five miles from there ( that was customarily done to kill disease and to enable the Mohawks to live off of new land), on the northern bend of the Mohawk River. She lived there, among her people until she was baptized at age 20 by Fr. de Lamberville. Shortly after she was pressured to marry a Mohawk man but refused and considered herself married to Christ. Her Uncle could no longer protect her.

When hostilities arose and her life was in great danger, she was taken to Canada, and lived the rest of her life in the new Christian Indian colony, caring for the sick and the elderly, and teaching her faith.

Today, there is a large shine for her in Auriesville, N.Y. as well as many other towns, and pilgrimages and masses are done still, in her name. Just this week, the Vatican announced the Kateri and Mother Marianne Cope (both from Central New York) will likely receive the papal bull, and will be Canonized next year. Pope John Paul II, beautified both women, Kateri in 1980.

The Lilly of the Mohawks died on April 17, 1680, at the age of 24.


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    • MikeSyrSutton profile image

      MikeSyrSutton 2 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      Thank you Kim!

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 2 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      An interesting story I had never heard before--thank you!

    • MikeSyrSutton profile image

      MikeSyrSutton 5 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      She is concidered a Saint by one religion. No one is saying that God considers her to be such! The church has sainted her as an example to others, because she taught about Jesus and tried to bring others to Him.I have no idea why anyone would try to twist that into something it isn't!

    • EphremHagos profile image

      EphremHagos 5 years ago from Addis Ababa

      It is an outright presumption of divine rights by man to confer sainthood upon others however meritorious.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Mike, this is a wonderful hub. I studied the life of Kateri Tekakwitha and so admire the strength and courage she had to have faith in herself and her dedication to Jesus. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

    • YogaKat profile image

      YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Thanks for this inspiring story. You can do great things when you live your passion.

    • MikeSyrSutton profile image

      MikeSyrSutton 5 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      I have no idea what your point is Ephrem. She died over 350 years ago and lived her faith in and love for, Jesus. How is that not what the Scriptures teach?

      Besides, you attack other people's work on here but even though you have been on here as long as I have, you haven't written one article. Why not write about your beliefs and try to teach them?

    • EphremHagos profile image

      EphremHagos 5 years ago from Addis Ababa

      Mike, thanks for your patience!

      Under the terms of the new covenant, it is written: "None of them will have to teach his fellow-countryman to know the LORD, because all will know me, from the least to the greatest" (Jer. 31:34).

      Jesus Christ repeated the same promise, "Everyone will be taught by God" (John 6:45).

      Therefore, it is neither my place nor any one's to teach. God forbid!

      The teacher is Jesus Christ only: first to a few in "figures of speech" and now to all more plainly as God's "life-giving Spirit" since his perfect and diacritical death on the cross (Ibid, 16: 25-26).

      I only compare notes willing with fellow-disciples. I hope you are or will be one. God bless you.

    • EphremHagos profile image

      EphremHagos 5 years ago from Addis Ababa

      You are right my friend. How I wish to be wrong!!!!!!!

      The story literally agrees with the prediction of Jesus in which he questioned our faith:

      "Will the Son of Man find faith on earth when he comes?"

      (Luke 18:8)

    • MikeSyrSutton profile image

      MikeSyrSutton 5 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      No, my friend! You are dead wrong about the Scriptures that this young lady risked her life for! Please read them again before you attack her! I am so sorry that an 8 year old girl could be such a threat to one's faith. How sad!

    • EphremHagos profile image

      EphremHagos 5 years ago from Addis Ababa

      This is another example of obedience to man's teaching or religion at the expense of God's commandments as known in the Scriptures. (Matt. 15: 1-9)