A Woman of Deep Faith and Piety
Posted by: CDFWarrington on Monday, March 6, 2023 at 9:17PM
Kateri Tekakwitha, also known as Lily of the Mohawks, was a Native American woman born in 1656 in what is now the location of upstate New York. She was the daughter of a Mohawk chief and an Algonquin mother. Like many Native American tribes, her family was impacted by disease and war; these circumstances left Tekakwitha an orphan at a young age.
Tekakwitha was known for her devotion to Christianity, which she learned from Jesuit missionaries who visited her village. Despite opposition from her tribe, Tekakwitha converted to Catholicism at the age of 19 and began living a life of deep faith and devotion. Tekakwitha's commitment to her faith is evident in the activities of her daily life. She would wake up early to attend Mass and spend hours praying and contemplating. She also took a vow of chastity, which was uncommon for Native American women at the time, and lead a life of indigence. She is quoted as saying:
"I will willingly abandon this miserable body to hunger and suffering, provided that my soul may have its ordinary nourishment."
Tekakwitha's piety and devotion were admired by the Jesuit missionaries who worked with her. They saw her as a model of Christian virtue and wrote about her in their letters and diaries; some even believed that she had miraculous healing powers. However, Tekakwitha was known for her humility and never sought attention or praise.
Tekakwitha's life was not without its challenges. She faced opposition and persecution from her tribe, who saw her conversion as a betrayal of their traditional ways. She also suffered from poor health, likely due to the effects of smallpox, which had left her with scars and impaired vision.
Despite these challenges, Tekakwitha remained steadfast in her faith and lived a life of service and devotion. She cared for the sick and elderly in her community and even took on the role of a catechist, teaching others about Christianity.
Tekakwitha's life came to an early end at the age of 24, but her legacy lives on. She was remembered as a woman of deep faith and piety, and her story inspired many others to follow in her footsteps. In 1980, Tekakwitha was beatified by the Catholic Church, and in 2012 she was canonized as a saint, becoming the first Native American woman to be recognized as a saint by the Church. She is considered a patron saint of ecology and the environment and a model of Christian virtue and devotion. Her feast day is celebrated on July 14th. Tekakwitha's story reminds us of the power of faith and devotion to bring people together in a world that often seems divided and conflicted. She teaches us that living a life of service and love is possible, even in the face of opposition and adversity.
As we celebrate the life and legacy of Kateri Tekakwitha, let us be inspired by her example and strive to live lives of faith, devotion, and service to others. May we always remember her as a model of Christian virtue and a shining example of what it means to live a life of love and compassion.