December 19, 2011

Kateri Tekakwitha to become saint

First Native American Cleared for Sainthood by VaticanThe Vatican today announced that the Mohawk-Algonquin woman born in 1656 and known as Kateri Tekakwitha has been deemed worthy of sainthood by the Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI has signed the decree recognizing a miracle performed by Kateri, and she will therefore be canonized at a ceremony sometime in the future.

According to the biography at, Kateri’s father was a Mohawk chief and her mother was Algonquin (Catholic News Service specifies that her mother was also a Christian); her parents and brother died of smallpox when she was four, and the disease left her with facial disfigurements and impaired vision. She was consequently given the name “Tekakwitha,” which means “she who bumps into things.” Her uncle, who was chief of the Turtle Clan of Mohawks, adopted her. Though he is described as “bitterly opposed to Christianity,” he eventually relented, and Kateri was baptized in 1676 at the age of 20. She died four years later. The name “Kateri” is a derivation of Catherine, taken at her baptism, according to Wikipedia, as a tribute to Catherine of Siena.

Also according to Wikipedia, the process of Kateri’s canonization began in 1884; Pope Pius XII declared her venerable in 1943, and Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1980. She was at that time the first American Indian to be beatified.
Kahnawake Mohawk named a saint

Kateri Tekakwitha will become North America's first aboriginal saintResidents of a Mohawk community just outside of Montreal are celebrating because a woman who lived in the area more than three centuries ago is about to be named a Roman Catholic saint.

The Vatican announced that Kateri Tekakwitha, of Kahnawake, will become North America's first aboriginal saint.

Deacon Ronald Boyer is the Canadian vice-postulator for her canonization. He has been advocating for Tekakwitha to be named a saint since 2007.

He said native people in North America have been pushing to have her declared a saint since her death, 331 years ago.
Comment:  For more on Kateri Tekakwitha, see Catholics to Ban Indian Practices? and Vatican Acknowledges Kateri Book.


Anonymous said...

Thats not true at all. The first aboriginal saint was Juan Diego, the Aztec man who saw the Virgin of Guadelupe

dmarks said...

The headline said: "Kateri Tekakwitha will become North America's first aboriginal saint"

Many make the geographic mistake and forget that Mexico and Central America are also part of North America. Perhaps this is where the mistake comes from.

dmarks said...

Another similar example of geographic ignorance was in another story earlier this year, linked somewhere into Newspaper Rock.

It involved, if I recall correctly, an Aztec shoe.... that was being imported to North America from Mexico. Or something like that.

Rob said...

I posted about Juan Diego long ago.

Undoubtedly the article meant the US and Canada. Which is why it used the word "aboriginal," which commonly applies to Canadian Indians.

But yes...if you include all of North America or the Western Hemisphere, I believe Juan Diego is the first indigenous saint.

P.S. I don't remember any postings about Aztec shoes.