Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
Between the years 1642 and 1649, St. Isaac Jogues and the North American martyrs came from France. They were killed while evangelizing the Indians. Ten years after the death of St. Isaac Jogues, Kateri Tekakwitha was born in the same village where he had died. (We celebrate the feast of St. Isaac and the North American Martyrs on October 19.)
Kateri means Katherine. Kateri was born in Auriesville, New York, in 1656. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin. Her father was a non-Christian Mohawk chief. Kateri's parents died of smallpox when the girl was fourteen. A Mohawk uncle raised her. This is how Kateri met the missionaries. On one occasion, her uncle had three Jesuit missionaries as his guests. Kateri began to receive instructions in the faith. She was baptized on Easter Sunday, 1676. That is when she took the name Kateri.
The village in which she lived was not Christian. In fact, in her lodge there was not one other Christian. The Indians did not appreciate her choice to remain unmarried. They insulted her and some resented that she did not work on Sunday. But Kateri held her ground. She prayed her Rosary every day, even when others made fun of her. She practiced patience and suffered quietly. Kateri's life grew harder. Some people were so harsh that their treatment was a persecution. She fled to a Christian village near Montreal. There on Christmas Day, 1677, she received her First Communion. It was a wonderful day. Father Pierre Cholonec, a Jesuit, guided her spiritual life for the next three years. She and an older Iroquois woman named Anastasia lived as joyful, generous Christians. Kateri made a private vow of virginity on March 25, 1679. She was just twenty-four when she died on April 17, 1680. Exactly three hundred years later, on June 22, 1980, Kateri Tekakwitha was declared "blessed" by Pope John Paul II.
Let us pray today for those who experience difficulty at the hands of others in their desire to live their Christian vocation more fully.