Kateri Tekakwitha

Last updated

Kateri Tekakwitha
Only known portrait from life of Catherine Tekawitha, c. 1690, by Father Chauchetière
Virgin [1]
Ossernenon, New York
BaptizedApril 18, 1676
DiedApril 17, 1680 (aged 24)
Kahnawake (near Montreal), Quebec, Canada
Venerated in Catholic Church
Beatified June 22, 1980, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Canonized October 21, 2012, Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI
Major shrine Saint Francis Xavier Church, Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada
Feast July 14
April 17 (Canada)[ citation needed ]
Attributes Lily; Turtle; Rosary
Patronage ecologists, ecology, environment, environmentalists, loss of parents, people in exile, people ridiculed for their piety, Native Americans
ControversyPressure to marry against will, shunned for her Catholic beliefs

Kateri Tekakwitha (pronounced  [ˈɡaderi deɡaˈɡwita] in Mohawk), given the name Tekakwitha, baptized as Catherine [2] [3] and informally known as Lily of the Mohawks (1656 – April 17, 1680), is a Catholic saint who was an AlgonquinMohawk laywoman. Born in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, on the south side of the Mohawk River in present-day New York State, she contracted smallpox in an epidemic; her family died and her face was scarred. She converted to Catholicism at age nineteen, when she was baptized and given the Christian name Kateri in honor of Catherine of Siena. Refusing to marry, she left her village and moved for the remaining five years of her life to the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River in New France, now Canada.


Kateri Tekakwitha took a vow of perpetual virginity. Upon her death at the age of 24, witnesses said that her scars vanished minutes later, and her face appeared radiant and beautiful. Known for her virtue of chastity and mortification of the flesh, as well as being shunned by some of her tribe for her religious conversion to Catholicism, she is the fourth Native American to be venerated in the Catholic Church and the first to be canonized. [4]

She was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II, and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter's Basilica on 21 October 2012. [5] [6] Various miracles and supernatural events are attributed to her intercession.

Early life and education

Sculpture of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha KateriTekakwitha.jpg
Sculpture of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Tekakwitha is the name the girl was given by her Mohawk people. It translates to "She who bumps into things." [7] She was born around 1656 in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon in Northeastern New York state. A nineteenth-century claim that Auriesville developed at the site of Ossernenon has been disproved by archeological findings, according to Dean R. Snow and other specialists in Native American history in New York. [8]

She was the daughter of Kenneronkwa, a Mohawk chief, and Kahenta, an Algonquin woman, who had been captured in a raid, then adopted and assimilated into the tribe. Kahenta had been baptized Catholic and educated by French missionaries in Trois-Rivières, east of Montreal. Mohawk warriors captured her and took her to their homeland. [9] Kahenta eventually married Kenneronkwa. [10] Tekakwitha was the first of their two children. A brother followed.

Tekakwitha's original village was highly diverse. The Mohawk were absorbing many captured natives of other tribes, particularly their competitors, the Huron, to replace people who died from warfare or diseases such as measles and chickenpox. While from different backgrounds, such captives were adopted into the tribe to become full members and were expected to assimilate as Mohawk fully.

The Mohawk suffered a severe smallpox epidemic from 1661 to 1663, causing high fatalities. When Tekakwitha was around four years old, her baby brother and both her parents died of smallpox. She survived but was left with facial scars and impaired eyesight. [11] She was adopted by her father's sister and her husband, a chief of the Turtle Clan. Before the epidemic, in 1659, some Mohawk had founded a new village on the north side of the river, which they called Caughnawaga [8] ("at the wild water" in the Mohawk language). [12] Survivors of Ossernenon moved to that village.

The Jesuits’ account of Tekakwitha said that she was a modest girl who avoided social gatherings; she covered much of her head with a blanket because of the smallpox scars. They said that, as an orphan, the girl was under the care of uninterested relatives. According to Mohawk practices, she was probably well taken care of by her clan, her mother and uncle's extended family, with whom she lived in the longhouse. She became skilled at traditional women’s arts, which included making clothing and belts from animal skins; weaving mats, baskets, and boxes from reeds and grasses; and preparing food from game, crops, and gathered produce. She took part in the women's seasonal planting and intermittent weeding. As was the custom, she was pressured to consider marriage around age thirteen, but she refused. [10]

Upheaval and invasions

Tekakwitha grew up in a period of upheaval, as the Mohawk interacted with French and Dutch colonists, who were competing in the lucrative fur trade. The Mohawk initially traded with the Dutch, who had settled in Albany and Schenectady. The French traded with and were allied with the Huron.

Trying to make inroads in Iroquois territory, the French attacked the Mohawk in present-day central New York in 1666. After driving the people from their homes, the French burned the three Mohawk villages on the south side of the river, destroying the longhouses, wigwams, and the women's corn and squash fields. Tekakwitha, around ten years old, fled with her new family into a cold October forest. [13]

After the defeat by the French forces, the Mohawk were forced into a peace treaty that required them to accept Jesuit missionaries in their villages. The Jesuits established a mission near Auriesville, New York. While there, the Jesuits studied Mohawk and other native languages to reach the people. They spoke of Christianity in terms with which the Mohawk could identify. In his work on Tekakwitha, Darren Bonaparte notes the parallels between Mohawk and Christian belief elements. For instance, the Jesuits used the word Karonhià:ke, the Mohawk name for Sky World, as the word for heaven in the Lord’s Prayer in Mohawk. "This was not just a linguistic shortcut, but a conceptual bridge from one cosmology to another." [11]

The Mohawk crossed their river to rebuild Caughnawaga on the north bank, west of the present-day town of Fonda, New York. In 1667, when Tekakwitha was 11 years old, she met the Jesuit missionaries Jacques Frémin, Jacques Bruyas, and Jean Pierron, who had come to the village. [14] Her uncle opposed any contact with them because he did not want her to convert to Christianity. One of his older daughters had already left Caughnawaga to go to Kahnawake, the Catholic mission village across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal.

In the summer of 1669, several hundred Mohican warriors, advancing from the east, launched a dawn attack on Caughnawaga. Rousing quickly to the defense, Mohawk villagers fought off the invaders, who kept Caughnawaga under siege for three days. Tekakwitha, now around 13 years old, joined other girls to help priest Jean Pierron tend to the wounded, bury the dead, and carry food and water to the defending warriors on the palisades.

When reinforcements arrived from other Mohawk villages, the defenders drove the Mohican warriors into retreat. The victorious Mohawk pursued the Mohican warriors, attacking them in the forest, killing over 80, and capturing several others. Returning to Caughnawaga amid the widespread celebration, the victors tortured the captive Mohicans—thirteen men and four women—for two afternoons in succession, planning to execute them on the third. Pierron, tending to the captives, implored the torturers to stop, but they ignored him. Pierron instructed the captives in Catholic doctrine as best he could and baptized them before they died under torture. [15]

Feast of the Dead

Later in 1669, the Iroquois Feast of the Dead, held every ten years, was convened at Caughnawaga. Some Oneida people came, along with Onondaga led by their famous sachem Garakontié. The remains of Tekakwitha's parents, along with the many others who had died in the previous decade, were to be carefully exhumed so that their souls could be released to wander to the spirit land to the west. [16]

According to a 1936 book about Tekakwitha, Pierron attacked the Feast of the Dead's beliefs and logic. The assembled Iroquois, upset over his remarks, ordered him to be silent. But Pierron continued, telling the Iroquois to give up their "superstitious" rites. Under Garakontié's protection, Pierron finished his speech. He demanded that to secure continued friendship with the French, the Iroquois give up their Feast of the Dead, their faith in dreams as a guide to action, and the worship of their war god. At length, the assembled Iroquois relented. Exchanging gifts with priest Pierron, they promised to give up the customs he had denounced. [17] Garakontié later converted to Christianity.

A chief converts

In 1671, Mohawk chief Ganeagowa, who had led his warriors to victory against the Mohican, returned from a long hunting trip in the north to announce he had become a Christian. He had come upon the Catholic Iroquois village set up by Jesuits at La Prairie, southeast of Montreal. There he made friendly contact with priest Jacques Frémin, who had served as a missionary in Mohawk country. Influenced by the Iroquois villagers' Catholic faith and his wife Satékon, Ganeagowa received instruction for several months from Frémin, who accepted him into the Church. [18]

Family pressures

By the time Tekakwitha turned 17, around 1673, her adoptive mother (her father's sister) and aunt (uncle's sister) had become concerned over her lack of interest in marriage. They tried to arrange her marriage to a young Mohawk man by instructing him to sit beside her. They indicated to Tekakwitha that the young man wanted to marry her. Accordingly, they pressured her to offer him a certain dish made with corn. [19] Iroquois custom regarded this as a woman's sign of openness to marriage. Tekakwitha fled the cabin and hid from her family in a nearby field. Tekakwitha was said to have been punished by her aunts with ridicule, threats, and harsh workloads. But Tekakwitha continued to resist marriage. [20] Eventually, her aunts gave up their efforts to get her to marry.

In the spring of 1674, at age eighteen, Tekakwitha met the Jesuit priest Jacques de Lamberville, who was visiting the village. Most of the women were out harvesting corn, but Tekakwitha had injured her foot and was in the cabin. [19] In the presence of others, Tekakwitha told him her story and her desire to become a Christian. After this, she started studying the catechism with him. [10]

Conversion and Kahnawake

Lamberville wrote in his journal in the years after her death about Tekakwitha. This text described her before she was baptized as a mild-mannered girl and behaved very well. Lamberville also stated that Kateri did everything she could to stay holy in a secular society, which often caused minor conflicts with her longhouse residents. These conflicts suggested no violence, which contradicts future texts. [21]

Judging her ready, Lamberville baptized Tekakwitha at the age of 19, on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1676. [22] Tekakwitha was baptized "Catherine" after St. Catherine of Siena (Kateri was the Mohawk form of the name). [23] [24]

After Kateri was baptized, she remained in Caughnawauga for another six months. Some Mohawks opposed her conversion and accused her of sorcery. [14] Lamberville suggested that she go to the Jesuit mission of Kahnawake, located south of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River, where other native converts had gathered. Catherine joined them in 1677. [25]

Tekakwitha was said to have put thorns on her sleeping mat and lain on them while praying for her relatives' conversion and forgiveness. Piercing the body to draw blood was a traditional practice of the Mohawk and other Iroquois nations. She lived at Kahnawake the remaining two years of her life. She learned more about Christianity under her mentor Anastasia, who taught her about the practice of repenting for one’s sins. When the women knew of religious sisters, they wanted to form their convent and created an informal association of devout women.[ citation needed ]

Father Cholonec wrote that Tekakwitha said:

I have deliberated enough. For a long time, my decision on what I will do has been made. I have consecrated myself entirely to Jesus, son of Mary, I have chosen Him for husband, and He alone will take me for wife. [14]

The Church considers that in 1679, with her decision on the Feast of the Annunciation, her conversion was truly completed, and she became the "first virgin" among the Mohawk. [14]

Mission du Sault St. Louis: Kahnawake

The Jesuits had founded Kahnawake for the religious conversion of the natives. When it began, the natives built their traditional longhouses for residences. They also built a longhouse to be used as a chapel by the Jesuits. As a missionary settlement, Kahnawake was at risk of being attacked by the Iroquois Confederacy members who had not converted to Catholicism. [10] (While it attracted other Iroquois, it was predominantly Mohawk, the prominent tribe in eastern New York.)

After Catherine's arrival, she shared the longhouse of her older sister and her husband. She would have known other people in the longhouse who had migrated from their former village of Gandaouagué (also spelled Caughnawaga). Her mother’s close friend, Anastasia Tegonhatsiongo, was clan matron of the longhouse. Anastasia and other Mohawk women introduced Tekakwitha to the regular practices of Christianity. [10]

Chauchetière and Cholenec

Claude Chauchetière and Pierre Cholenec were Jesuit priests who played important roles in Tekakwitha’s life. Both were based in New France and Kahnawake. Chauchetière was the first to write a biography of Tekakwitha’s life, followed by Cholenec, in 1695 and 1696, respectively. [10] Cholenec arrived in New France in 1672, before Chauchetière. [26] Cholenec introduced whips, hair shirts and iron girdles, traditional items of Catholic mortification, to the converts at Kahnawake. He wanted them to adopt these rather than use Mohawk ritual practices. [10] Both Chauchetière and Tekakwitha arrived in Kahnawake the same year, in 1677.

He later wrote about having been very impressed by her, as he had not expected a native to be so pious. [27] Chauchetière came to believe that Catherine Tekakwitha was a saint. Jesuits generally thought that the natives needed Christian guidance to be set on the right path. Chauchetière acknowledged that close contact with and deeper knowledge of the natives in Kahnawake changed some of his set notions about the people and differences among human cultures. [10] In his biography of Kateri, he stressed her "charity, industry, purity, and fortitude." [28] In contrast, Cholenec stressed her virginity, perhaps to counter white stereotypes at the time characterizing Indian women as promiscuous. [28]


Tekakwitha believed in the value of offered suffering. She did not eat very much and was said to add undesirable tastes to her food. She would lie on a mat with thorns. There was a custom among some Native American peoples of the time of piercing oneself with thorns in thanksgiving for some good or an offering for oneself or others' needs. Knowing the terrible burns given to prisoners, she burned herself. Her spiritual counselor, Anastasia, seems to have encouraged her penances. With her friend Marie-Thérèse, Tekakwitha readily took up penances. Her health had always been poor, and it weakened. Marie-Thérèse sought the help of Chauchetière. He scolded the young women, saying that penance must be used in moderation. He told the two that they must have him approve their penances lest they become unreasonable. Tekakwitha listened to the priest. From then on, Tekakwitha practiced whatever penance the priest would allow her, but nothing more.[ citation needed ]

Friendship with Marie-Thérèse

Upon her arrival in the Christian community, Catherine befriended Marie Thérèse Tegaianguenta. They prayed together often. Marie Skarichions told Catherine and Marie-Thérèse about religious women. Through their mutual quest, the two women had a strong "spiritual friendship," as described by the Jesuits. [10] The two women influenced a circle of associates. When they asked the Jesuits for permission to form a group of native disciples, they were told they were too "young in faith" for such a group. The women continued to practice their faith together.[ citation needed ]

Death and appearances

Around Holy Week of 1680, friends noted that Tekakwitha's health was failing. When people knew she had but a few hours left, villagers gathered together, accompanied by the priests Chauchetière and Cholenec, the latter providing the last rites. [10] Catherine Tekakwitha died at around 15:00 (3 p.m.) on Holy Wednesday, April 17, 1680, at the age of 23 or 24, in the arms of her friend Marie-Therèse. Chauchetière reports her final words were, "Jesus, Mary, I love you." [29]

After her death, the people noticed a physical change. Cholenec later wrote, "This face, so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed about a quarter of an hour after her death and became in a moment so beautiful and so white that I observed it immediately." [30] Her smallpox scars were said to disappear.

Tekakwitha purportedly appeared to three individuals in the weeks after her death; her mentor Anastasia Tegonhatsiongo, her friend Marie-Therèse Tegaiaguenta, and Chauchetière. Anastasia said that, while crying over the death of her spiritual daughter, she looked up to see Catherine "kneeling at the foot" of her mattress, "holding a wooden cross that shone like the sun." Marie-Thérèse reported that she was awakened at night by a knocking on her wall, and a voice asked if she were awake, adding, "I’ve come to say good-bye; I’m on my way to heaven." Marie-Thérèse went outside but saw no one; she heard a voice murmur, "Adieu, Adieu, go tell the father that I’m going to heaven." Chauchetière meanwhile said he saw Catherine at her grave; he said she appeared in "baroque splendor; for two hours he gazed upon her" and "her face lifted toward heaven as if in ecstasy." [10]

Chauchetière had a chapel built near Kateri's gravesite. By 1684, pilgrimages had begun to honor her there. The Jesuits turned her bones to dust and set the ashes within the "newly rebuilt mission chapel." This symbolized her presence on earth, and her remains were sometimes used as relics for healing.


Statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New Mexico Statue Kateri Tekakwitha.jpg
Statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Tekakwitha's gravestone reads:

Kateri Tekakwitha

Ownkeonweke Katsitsiio Teonsitsianekaron

The fairest flower that ever bloomed among red men.

The first account of Kateri Tekakwitha was not published until 1715. Because of Tekakwitha's unique path to chastity, she is often referred to as a lily, a traditional symbol of purity associated with the Virgin Mary since the medieval period. Religious images of Tekakwitha are often decorated with a lily and cross, with feathers or turtle as cultural accessories alluding to her Native American birth. Colloquial terms for Tekakwitha are The Lily of the Mohawks (most notable), the Mohawk Maiden, the Pure and Tender Lily, the Flower among True Men, the Lily of Purity and The New Star of the New World. Her tribal neighbors referred to her as "the fairest flower that ever bloomed among the redmen." [31] Her virtues are considered an ecumenical bridge between Mohawk and European cultures.


Statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha by Joseph-Emile Brunet at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, near Quebec City Kateri Tekakwitha au Quebec.JPG
Statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha by Joseph-Émile Brunet at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, near Quebec City

For some time after her death, Kateri Tekakwitha was considered an honorary yet unofficial patroness of Montreal, Canada, and the Americas' Indigenous peoples. Fifty years after her death, a convent for Native American nuns opened in Mexico. They have prayed for her and supported her canonization.

Indian Catholic missions and bishops in the 1880s wrote a petition initiating the veneration of Kateri Tekakwitha. In that petition, they stated that she was pure and holy and a gift unto the Native Americans. They asked for the venerations of Tekakwitha and the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and Brother René Goupil, two Catholic missionaries who had been slain by the Mohawk in Osernnenon a few decades before Kateri’s birth. They concluded their petition by stating that these venerations would help encourage Catholicism among other Native Americans. [32]

The process for Kateri Tekakwitha's canonization was initiated by United States Catholics at the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1885, followed by Canadian Catholics. Some 906 Native Americans signed 27 letters in the US and Canada urging her canonization. [33]

On January 3, 1943, Pope Pius XII declared her venerable. She was beatified as Catherine Tekakwitha on June 22, 1980, by Pope John Paul II. [34]

On December 19, 2011, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints certified a second miracle through her intercession, signed by Pope Benedict XVI, which paved the way for pending canonization. [35] On February 18, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI decreed that Tekakwitha be canonized. Speaking in Latin, he used the form "Catharina Tekakwitha"; the official booklet of the ceremony referred to her in English and Italian as "Kateri Tekakwitha." [36] She was canonized on October 21, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI. [29] In the official canonization rite booklet, "Catherine" is used in the English and French biographies and "Kateri" in the translation of the rite itself. [37] She is the first Native American woman of North America to be canonized by the Catholic Church. [38] [39]

Kateri Tekakwitha is featured in four national shrines in the United States: the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Fonda, New York; the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York; the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.; and The National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods, an open-air sanctuary in Indian River, Michigan. The latter shrine's design was inspired by Kateri's habit of placing small wooden crosses throughout the woods. One statue on the grounds shows her cradling a cross in her arms, surrounded by turtles. [40]

A statue of the Saint is installed outside the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in Quebec, Canada. Another is installed at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Kateri Tekakwitha has been featured in recently created religious works. In 2007, the Grand Retablo, a 40-foot-high work by Spanish artisans, was installed behind the main altar of the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, California. It features Catherine Tekakwitha, Junipero Serra, St. Joseph, and Francis of Assisi. [41] [42]

A bronze statue of Kateri Tekawitha kneeling in prayer was installed in 2008, created by artist Cynthia Hitschler, [43] along the devotional walkway leading to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wisconsin. [44]


A statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in Saint John Neumann Catholic Church, Sunbury, Ohio Saint John Neumann Catholic Church (Sunbury, Ohio) - interior, statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.jpg
A statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in Saint John Neumann Catholic Church, Sunbury, Ohio

Joseph Kellogg was a Protestant child captured by Natives in the eighteenth century and eventually returned to his home. Twelve months later, he caught smallpox. The Jesuits helped treat him, but he was not recovering. They had relics from Tekakwitha’s grave but did not want to use them on a non-Catholic. One Jesuit told Kellogg that if he would become a Catholic, help would come to him. Joseph did so. The Jesuit gave him a piece of decayed wood from Kateri's coffin, which is said to have made him heal. The historian Allan Greer takes this account to mean that Tekakwitha was known in 18th-century New France, and she was already perceived to have healing abilities. [10]

Other miracles were attributed to Kateri: Father Rémy recovered his hearing, and a nun in Montreal was cured by using items formerly belonging to Kateri. Such incidents were evidence that Kateri was possibly a saint. Following the death of a person, sainthood is symbolized by events that show the rejection of death. It is also represented by a duality of pain and neutralization of the other’s pain (all shown by her reputed miracles in New France). [10] Chauchetière told settlers in La Prairie to pray to Kateri for intercession with illnesses. Due to the Jesuits' superior system of publicizing material, his words and Kateri's fame were said to reach Jesuits in China and their converts. [10]

As people believed in her healing powers, some collected earth from her gravesite and wore it in bags as a relic. One woman said she was saved from pneumonia ("grande maladie du rhume"); she gave the pendant to her husband, who was healed from his disease. [10]

On December 19, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI approved the second miracle needed for Kateri's canonization. [50] The authorized miracle dates from 2006, when a young boy in Washington state survived a severe flesh-eating bacterium. Doctors had been unable to stop the disease's progress by surgery and advised his parents he was likely to die. The boy received the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick from a Catholic priest. As the boy is half Lummi Indian, the parents said they prayed to Tekakwitha for divine intercession, as did their family and friends, and an extended network contacted through their son's classmates. [51] Sister Kateri Mitchell visited the boy's bedside and placed a relic of Tekakwitha, a bone fragment, against his body and prayed together with his parents. [52] The next day, the infection stopped its progression. [53]


Mohawk scholar Orenda Boucher noted that despite extensive support for the canonization of Tekakwitha, some traditional Mohawk see her as a connection to the worst aspects of colonialism. They do not believe that she embodied or reflected traditional Mohawk womanhood. [54] Yet, the same article quotes "Russell Roundpoint, director of the Mohawk history and cultural center at Akwesasne, who said her sainthood is "not a contentious issue by any stretch of the imagination," and that the "Mohawk people are very proud of the fact that she has attained such a high level." [54]

American Protestants directed a negative response towards Tekakwitha’s veneration. Historian Allan Greer, who studied connections between Tekakwitha and anti-Catholicism in America, stated that Catholics needed her in a society that viewed the Church as foreign. Protestants were afraid that U.S. saints' canonizations would bring more Catholic power into America, while the Catholics wanted to solidify the Church more into society. Protestant newspapers such as the Methodist Review warned its readers to beware of these canonizations. [55]

Cultural references

The historian K. I. Koppedrayer has suggested that the Catholic Church fathers' hagiography of Tekakwitha reflected "some of the trials and rewards of the European presence in the New World." [14] She captured the imagination of some observers. Based on accounts from two Jesuit priests who knew her, at least 300 books have been published in more than 20 languages on the life of Kateri Tekakwitha. [11]

Also, Tekakwitha has been featured in late 20th-century novels and at least one from the 21st century, which have explored the role of religion and colonialism in the New World:

Novelist Diane Glancy (who is of Cherokee descent) was the first Native American writer to make Tekakwitha the main focus of an historical novel, The Reason for Crows. [56]

In an episode of the French animation series Clémentine , the time-traveling main character Clémentine Dumant meets and befriends a younger version of Tekakwitha. She is portrayed as a shy teenager who is isolated and harassed by her peers after her conversion, but with Clémentine's help, she earns their love and respect.

Brooklyn-based Irish singer-songwriter Niall Connolly includes a song titled "Lily of the Mohawks" on his 2013 album, Sound . The song was inspired when he noticed an image of Kateri Tekakwitha on the door of St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City.

Kateri Tekawitha is referenced in the 2017 novel Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich, as an inspiration for the main character Cedar Hawk Songmaker. [57]


Blessed Kateri devotional medal Kateri Tekakwitha devotional medal.jpg
Blessed Kateri devotional medal

After Tekakwitha’s beatification in 1980, Paula E. Holmes, in the late 1990s, interviewed several elderly Native American women about their childhoods and hearing stories from their ancestors about Tekakwitha. One woman retold her time in a church where her grandmother told her that she prayed to Kateri for her. One semiretired nurse from New Mexico told Holmes about her aunt’s fondness of Kateri and how people would travel to New York to learn about her. The nurse’s cousin told Holmes how her mother kept pictures of Kateri wrapped in fur and gave her a Tekakwitha medal. Holmes then stated that Kateri is "as part of their Indian familiar and familial heritage." [58]

Clarence A. Walworth (d. 1900) was one of the biggest pushers for Tekakwitha’s veneration. Because Walworth was so interested in Native American history, he researched Tekakwitha’s life and promoted her cause with his niece, Ellen. He then personally financed a $1,000 granite monument in Kahnawake out of a gesture for international co-operation for her veneration. [59]

In traditional fashion, numerous churches, schools and other Catholic institutions have been named for her, particularly since her canonization, including several Catholic elementary schools. Among these are St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Elementary School in Kitchener, [60] Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Elementary School in Markham, [61] St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Elementary School in Hamilton, [62] Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic School in Orléans (Ottawa), [63] and St. Kateri Tekakwitha School in Calgary, Alberta. [64] In the United States, St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Churches are Dearborn, MI [65] and Buffalo, TX. [66] in Saint Kateri is the patron saint of John Cabot Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga.

The St. Kateri Tekakwitha School in Niskayuna, New York was named after her canonization. The St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, located in adjacent Schenectady, was founded by merging the Our Lady of Fatima and St. Helen's churches in late 2012. A cluster parish was formed in Irondequoit, New York, in 2010, taking the name Blessed Kateri Parish; the name was later changed to Saint Kateri after her canonization. Kateri Residence, an Archdiocese of New York Catholic Charities nursing home in Manhattan, New York, is named for her.

The St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Santa Clarita, California, holds a statue of her in the church. [67] [68] A statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is placed at the steps of Holy Cross School at San Buenaventura Mission in southern California to honor the local Native American Chumash people, who helped build and sustain the Mission until the 1840s. [69]

Tekakwitha is featured at Camp Ondessonk, a Catholic youth camp in southern Illinois. One of the cabin units is named after her. She is one of the namesakes of Camp Ondessonk's honor society, The Lodges of Ondessonk and Tekakwitha.

Since 1939, the Tekakwitha Conference meets annually to support Native Americans’ conversions into and practices of Catholicism. At each conference, people gather in Kateri Circles, named in honor of her, to pray together and become better Catholics. In 1991, the Conference reported 130 registered Kateri Circles. [32]

The chapel of Welsh Family Hall at the University of Notre Dame, built in 1997, is dedicated to Kateri Tekakwitha.

Tekakwitha Island (French: île Tekakwitha) in the St-Lawrence River, part of the Kahnawake reserve, is named after her.

In 2021, on Easter Sunday the eponymously named church in Bay Mills, Michigan burnt. A picture of the saint survived the fire. [70] In May, for the second time that same church burned that was built in her honor on the Bay Mills Indian Community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. [71]

Related Research Articles

Fonda, New York Village in New York, United States

Fonda is a village in and the county seat of Montgomery County, New York, United States. The population was 795 at the 2010 census. The village is named after Douw Fonda. He was a Dutch-American settler who was killed and scalped in 1780, during a Mohawk raid in the Revolutionary War, when the tribe was allied with the British.

St. Regis Mohawk Reservation Indian reservation in New York State, US

St. Regis Mohawk Reservation is a Mohawk Indian reservation in Franklin County, New York, United States. It is also known by its Mohawk name, Akwesasne. The population was 3,288 at the 2010 census. The reservation is adjacent to the Akwesasne reserve in Ontario and Quebec across the St. Lawrence River. The Mohawk consider the entire community to be one unit, and have the right to travel freely across the international border.

Canadian Martyrs

The Canadian Martyrs, also known as the North American Martyrs, were eight Jesuit missionaries from Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. They were ritually tortured and killed on various dates in the mid-17th century in Canada, in what is now southern Ontario, and in upstate New York, during the warfare between the Iroquois and the Huron. They have subsequently been canonized and venerated as martyrs by the Catholic Church.

Mohawk people Indigenous First Nation of North America

The Mohawk people are the most easterly section of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy. They are an Iroquoian-speaking indigenous people of North America, with communities in southeastern Canada and northern New York State, primarily around Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. As one of the five original members of the Iroquois League, the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka are known as the Keepers of the Eastern Door – the traditional guardians of the Iroquois Confederation against invasions from the east.

Isaac Jogues Beatified Martyred Jesuit Priest

Isaac Jogues, S.J. was a French missionary and martyr who traveled and worked among the Iroquois, Huron, and other Native populations in North America. He was the first European to name Lake George, calling it Lac du Saint Sacrement. In 1646, Jogues was martyred by the Mohawk at their village of Ossernenon, north of the Mohawk River.

Kahnawake First Nations reserve in Quebec, Canada

The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory is a First Nations reserve of the Mohawks of Kahnawá:ke on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada, across from Montreal. Recorded by French Canadians in 1719 as a Jesuit mission, it has also been known as Seigneury Sault du St. Louis, and Caughnawaga. There are 17 European spelling variations of the Mohawk Kahnawake.

Akwesasne Mohawk Territory

The Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne is a Mohawk Nation (Kanienʼkehá꞉ka) territory that straddles the intersection of international borders and provincial boundaries on both banks of the St. Lawrence River. Most of the land and population are in what is otherwise present-day Canada. A small portion is also in the United States. Although divided by an international border, the residents consider themselves to be one community. They maintain separate police forces due to jurisdictional issues and national laws.

The Seven Nations of Canada was a historic confederation of First Nations living in and around the Saint Lawrence River valley beginning in the eighteenth century. They were allied to New France and often included substantial numbers of Roman Catholic converts. During the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), they supported the French against the British. Later, they formed the northern nucleus of the British-led Aboriginal alliance that fought the United States in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Peshawbestown, Michigan Unincorporated community in Michigan, United States

Peshawbestown is an unincorporated community in Suttons Bay Township of Leelanau in the U.S. state of Michigan. In historical documents, the name is spelled variously as Peshabetown, Peshabatown, Pshawbatown, Preshabestown.

Auriesville, New York hamlet in New York, United States

Auriesville is a hamlet in the northeastern part of the Town of Glen in Montgomery County, New York, United States, along the south bank of the Mohawk River and west of Fort Hunter. It lies about forty miles west of Albany, the state capital. A Jesuit cemetery is located there, as French Jesuits founded a mission village at Ossernenon from 1667 until 1684, when the Mohawk destroyed it. Auries is said to have been the name of the last Mohawk known to have lived there. Settlers named the village after him.

Jacques de Lamberville was a Jesuit missionary and the younger brother of Jean de Lamberville, also a missionary. He came to New France from France at the age of 34 and became part of the Iroquois missions. There, his most famous convert was Kateri Tekakwitha.

Pierre Cholenec was a French Jesuit missionary and biographer in New France. He ministered to First Nations in present-day Canada, particularly at the village of Kahnawake south of Montreal. He served as superior of the Jesuit residence in Montréal. He is known for writing multiple biographies about Kateri Tekakwitha which contributed to her canonization in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.

<i>Fathers and Crows</i>

Fathers and Crows is a 1992 historical novel by the American author William T. Vollmann. It is the second book in a seven-book series called Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes.

Joseph Sibbel was a German-born sculptor.

The Mohawk Nation reserve of Kahnawake, south of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, includes residents with surnames of Mohawk, French, Scots and English ancestry, reflecting its multicultural history. This included the adoption of European children into the community, as well as intermarriage with local colonial settlers over the life of the early village. Located along the St. Lawrence River south of the city of Montréal on the shores of the St-Louis rapids, it dates to 1667 as a Jesuit settlement called Mission Saint-François-Xavier du Sault-Saint-Louis. The original mission was located in what is now La Prairie and was called Kentake by its first Oneida settlers.

The Tekakwitha Conference is a Roman Catholic institution that supports Christian ministry among Native Americans, primarily through its annual meeting.

Caughnawaga Indian Village Site United States historic place

Caughnawaga Indian Village Site is an archaeological site located just west of Fonda in Montgomery County, New York. It is the location of a 17th-century Mohawk nation village. One of the original Five Nations of the Iroquois League, or Haudenosaunee, the Mohawk lived west of Albany and occupied much of the Mohawk Valley. Other Iroquois nations were located west of them and south of the Great Lakes.

Thomas Grassmann

Rev. Thomas Grassmann, OFM Conv, was a Conventual Franciscan friar, historian and archaeologist of Colonial New York, who discovered the site of the Mohawk American Village of Caughnawaga near Fonda, New York.

Claude Chauchetière was a French Jesuit missionary, priest, biographer, and painter. Claude Chauchetière is well known for his published work Annual Narrative of the Mission of the Sault from Its Foundation Until the Year 1686 which detailed his time in New France as a Jesuit missionary. For most of his mission work he was placed in the village of Kahnawake where he encountered Kateri Tekakwitha, an Algonquin-Mohawk Jesuit convert, an encounter that immensely impacted his spiritual life. Later on Chauchetière would also actively work to get Kateri Tekakwitha canonized as a saint.


  1. Pierre Cholence SJ, "Catharinae Tekakwitha, Virginis" (1696), Acta Apostolica Sedis, January 30, 1961
  2. Pierre Cholenec, S.J. (1696). The Life of Catherine Tekakwitha, First Iroquois Virgin. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  3. Claude Chauchetiere, S.J. (1695). "The Life of the Good Catherine Tekakwitha, said now Saint Catherine Tekakwitha". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  4. Juan Diego and two other Oaxacan Indians were first accorded the honor of veneration.
  5. "Pope Canonizes 7 Saints, Including 2 With New York Ties". The New York Times. October 22, 2012.
  6. EWTN Televised Broadcast: "Public Consistory for the Creation of New Cardinals", Rome, February 18, 2012. Saint Peter's Basilica. Closing remarks before recession preceded by Cardinal Agostino Vallini.
  7. "Tekakwitha Newsletter". Katerishrine.com. October 21, 2012. Archived from the original on March 10, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  8. 1 2 Dean R. Snow; Charles T. Gehring; William A. Starna, eds. (1996). "Introduction". In Mohawk Country: Early Narratives about a Native People. Syracuse University Press. ISBN   9780815604105.
  9. Juliette Lavergne (1934). La Vie gracieuse de Catherine Tekakwitha. Montreal: Editions A.C.F. pp. 13–43.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Greer, Allan (2005). Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits. Oxford University Press. pp. 3–205.
  11. 1 2 3 Darren Bonaparte (Mohawk), "A Lily Among Thorns: The Mohawk Repatriation of Káteri Tekahkwí:tha", presented at 30th Conference on New York State History, 5 June 2009, Plattsburgh, New York, accessed 25 July 2012
  12. Francis X. Weiser, S.J. (1972). Kateri Tekakwitha. Caughnawaga, Canada: Kateri Center. p. 34.
  13. Daniel Sargent, Catherine Tekakwitha, Longmans, Green & Co., New York, 1936, p. 164.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 Koppedrayer, K. I. (1993). "The Making of the First Iroquois Virgin: Early Jesuit Biographies of the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha". Ethnohistory. Duke University Press. 40 (2): 277–306. doi:10.2307/482204. JSTOR   482204.
  15. Francis X. Weiser, S.J. Kateri Tekakwitha, Kateri Center, Caughnawaga, Canada, 1972, pp. 50-2.
  16. Daniel Sargent, Catherine Tekakwitha, Longmans, Green & Co., New York, 1936, p. 167. Also, J.N.B. Hewitt, "The Iroquoian Concept of the Soul," Journal of American Folk-Lore, vol. 8, Boston, 1895, p. 109.
  17. Daniel Sargent, Catherine Tekakwitha, Longmans, Green & Co., New York, 1936, pp. 167-8.
  18. Francis X. Weiser, S.J. Kateri Tekakwitha, Kateri Center, Caughnawaga, Canada, 1972, p. 61.
  19. 1 2 Rev. Edward Sherman (2007). Tekakwitha Holy Native, Mohawk Virgin 1656-1680. Grand Forks, ND: Fine Print Inc. p. 106.
  20. Edward Lecompte, S.J., Glory of the Mohawks: The Life of the Venerable Catherine Tekakwitha, translated by Florence Ralston Werum, FRSA, Bruce Publishing Co., Milwaukee, 1944, p. 28; Francis X. Weiser, S.J., Kateri Tekakwitha, Kateri Center, Caughnawaga, Canada, 1972, pp. 65-8.
  21. Greer, Allan (1998). "Savage/Saint: The Lives of Kateri Tekakwitha". In Sylvie Depatie; Catherine Desbarats; Danielle Gauvreau; et al. (eds.). Vingt Ans Apres: Habitants et Marchands[Twenty Years After: Inhabitants and Merchants] (in French). McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 146. ISBN   9780773516922. JSTOR   j.ctt812wj.
  22. Lodi, Enzo (1992). Saints of the Roman Calendar (Eng. Trans.). New York: Alba House. p. 419. ISBN   0-8189-0652-9.
  23. Walworth, Ellen Hardin (1891). The Life and Times of Kateri Tekakwitha: The Lily of the Mohawks, 1656–1680. Buffalo: Peter Paul. p. 1n. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  24. Greer, Allan (2005). Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits. Oxford University Press. pp. 196–197.
  25. Dominique Roy et Marcel Roy (1995). Je Me Souviens: Histoire du Québec et du Canada. Ottawa: Éditions du Renouveau Pédagogique Inc. p. 32.
  26. Béchard, Henri. "Cholenec, Pierre" . Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  27. Jaenen, C. J. (1979) [1969]. "Chauchetière, Claude". In Hayne, David (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography . II (1701–1740) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  28. 1 2 Leslie Choquette, Review: Allan Greer, Mohawk Saint, H-France Review, Vol. 5 (October 2005), No. 109; accessed 25 July 2012
  29. 1 2 "Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops - Canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, 21 October 2012". www.cccb.ca. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  30. Greer (2005), p. 17
  31. Bunson, Margaret, and Stephen, "Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of this Mohawks," Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions brochure, p. 1
  32. 1 2 Thiel, Mark; Vecsey, Christopher (2013). Native Footsteps: Along the Path of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. Milwaukee: Marquette U. pp. 45–6, 49–51.
  33. "BUREAU OF CATHOLIC INDIAN MISSIONS". Marquette University. 2021. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  34. Acta Apostolicae Sedis LIII (1961), p. 82. Note: The official beatification register postulated by Rev. Anton Witwer, S.J. to the Catholic Church bears her name as Catherine. The 1961 edition of Acta Apostolicae Sedis refers in Latin to her cause of beatification as that of "Ven. Catharinae Tekakwitha, virginis".
  35. "Pope OKs 7 New Saints, Including Hawaii's Marianne". Salon. December 19, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  36. Concistoro Ordinario Pubblico … Basilica Vaticana, 18 febbraio 2012, pp. 33–39
  37. https://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/libretti/2012/20121021.pdf
  38. Cappella papale for the canonization of the blesseds: James Berthieu, Pedro Calungsod, John Baptist Piamarta, Maria of mt Carmel Sallés y Barangueras, Marianne Cope, Kateri Tekakwitha, Anna Schäffer
  39. Catholic Church fast-tracks two early Quebec figures for sainthood
  40. "The National Shrine of Cross in the Woods". Crossinthewoods.com. November 12, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  41. Ignatin, Heather (April 19, 2007). "Retablo draws crowds at Mission Basilica". Orange County Register . Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2008.
  42. "Grand Retablo en Route to San Juan Capistrano, Installation expected March 19" Archived October 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine , Mission San Juan Capistrano, 9 February 2007
  43. "Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks: Bronze, Height 55". Celstumo.com. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  44. "Mohawk Woman Enshrined at Shrine" (Orso, Joe), La Crosse Tribune, 31 July 2008:
  45. Reports, Staff. "Lewiston: Statue Dedication at Fatima". Niagara Gazette. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  46. "Lily of the Mohawks", Maryknoll Magazine, Sept/Oct 2012. Vol 106. Number 5, pp. 31-32
  47. "Kateri Tekakwitha", Saints in the Strip website
  48. "Catholic Cemeteries | We Remember - We Believe!". Rcancem.org. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  49. "A Place of Hope…" . Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  50. "PROMULGAZIONE DI DECRETI DELLA CONGREGAZIONE DELLE CAUSE DEI SANTI". catholica.va. December 19, 2011. Archived from the original on June 2, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  51. Discepolo, John (December 20, 2011). "Vatican calls Whatcom boy's survival a miracle". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  52. "Kateri Tekakwitha: First Catholic Native American saint". BBC News. October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  53. "Boy's miracle cure makes first Native American saint". Associated Press. October 20, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  54. 1 2 Esch, Mary (October 28, 2012). "1st Native American saint stirs pride, skepticism". Yahoo! News. Associated Press.
  55. Cummings, Kathleen (2012). "American Saints: Gender and the Re-Imaging of U.S. Catholicism in the Early Twentieth Century". Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation. 22 (2): 203–231. doi:10.1525/rac.2012.22.2.203. ISSN   1052-1151. S2CID   146881132.
  56. "The Reason for Crows". Sunypress.edu. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  57. Patrick, Bethanne (November 10, 2017). "Louise Erdrich discusses her new novel, 'Future Home of the Living God'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  58. Holmes, Paula (2001). "The Narrative Repatriation of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha [Repatriation of Kateri Tekakwitha through Narratives, as Told by Her Pueblo Women Devotees]". ProQuest.
  59. Greer, Allan (2004). "Natives and Nationalism: The Americanization of Kateri Tekakwitha". The Catholic Historical Review. 90 (2): 260–272. doi:10.1353/cat.2004.0069. JSTOR   25026572. S2CID   159891656.
  60. darcy. "Home". St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  61. "York Catholic District School Board, Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Elementary School". York.cioc.ca. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  62. "St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Elementary School". Stkt.hwcdsb.ca. January 10, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  63. "St. Kateri Tekakwitha". Kat.ocsb.ca. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  64. "St. Kateri Tekakwitha School". Calgary Catholic School District. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  65. "St Kateri Catholic Church Dearborn, Michigan". St Kateri Catholic Church. Retrieved August 27, 2021.
  66. "Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Roman Catholic Church" . Retrieved August 27, 2021.
  67. "Home". Blessedkateriparish.org. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  68. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 18, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  69. "Saint Kateri Tekawitha". San Buenaventura Mission. October 21, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  70. Clarke, Wendy Ann (April 16, 2021). "Portrait of St. Kateri survives devastating church fire on Easter Sunday". The Catholic Register . Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  71. U.P. Church Named After American Saint Destroyed for Second Time (May 5, 2021) MLive.

Further reading