Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha - 1656-1680
Kateri Tekakwitha, born in 1656 of an Algonquian Indian mother who was a devout Christian and a Mohawk chief who remained a pagan was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II. In accord with the matrilineal traditions of her people Kateri belonged to the Algonquin nation. Although she was brought up in the anti-Christian surroundings of the Mohawk community in Ossernenon, in what is now Auriesville, NY, Kateri held fast to the faith of her mother. Both her parents and her brother died in a plague and though Kateri survived the ravages of her illness, it left her delicate for the rest of her life.
Those who had charge of her hated the Christian missionaries and Kateri was persecuted because she refused to give up her Christian way of life. "I want to be a Christian, even though I should die for it," she said. Her foster parents deprived her of all food on Sunday because she would not work in the fields on that day. Beatings, continual criticism, sarcasm and mockery were her constant lot. They tried to force marriage on her but she was inspired to remain a virgin and after she became a Christian she took a vow of virginity.
In time, Kateri made her way to Caughnawaga, a community of Christians. There she led a life of intense Christian virtue until her death in 1680 at the age of 24. Her renown for heroic sanctity soon spread and many miracles have been worked through her intercession.
Kateri Tekakwitha followed the generation of Saints John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and Companions thus bearing out the ancient Christian saying that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians".
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