The Archdiocese of Vancouver is preparing to mark the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha with a celebration to be held at Holy Rosary Cathedral on Sunday, 28 October 2012 at 2:30 pm.
The celebration will begin with a procession of First Nations members, followed by Mass at 2:30 pm presided by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B. A painting of Blessed Kateri and a relic of her will be on display during Mass. Following the Mass there will be veneration of Saint Kateri which will include First Nations singers and drummers. The Catholic Women's League will provide refreshments in Holy Rosary Hall following the celebrations.
The Holy See’s announcement that Bl. Kateri will be canonized in October was met “with great joy” by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“This event will be a great honour to all of North America, but also in a particular way to its Aboriginal Peoples, of whom Kateri will be the first to receive this dignity,” said CCCB president Archbishop Richard Smith.
For a short video presentation by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB about Blessed Kateri: Click here or on her image above.
Blessed Kateri, known as "the Lily of the Mohawks," was born to a Christian Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father in 1656 along the Hudson River in what is today upstate New York. She was baptized by a Jesuit missionary in 1676 when she was 20.
Persecuted for her Catholic faith, she moved to a Christian Mohawk village in what is now Kahnawake, in the current diocese of Saint-Jean Longueuil, Que., where she died in 1680 at 24. She is buried at St. Francis Xavier Mission in Kahnawake (Caughnawaga) in Quebec.
Her sainthood cause was opened in 1932, and she was declared venerable in 1943. In June 1980, she became the first Native American to be beatified.
In his 1980 “Address to the Indians of North America,” Blessed John Paul II said Kateri provides us with “an example of fidelity ... a model of purity and love.”
In December, Pope Benedict XVI advanced the sainthood causes of Blessed Kateri and Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai by signing the decrees recognizing the miracles needed for their canonizations. On Feb. 18, the Pope announced they would be canonized at the Vatican Oct. 21, along with five others.
Welcoming the canonization announcement, Archbishop Smith said “Pope Benedict recently reminded us that all saints, “through their different paths of life, show us the various ways to holiness, united by a single common denominator: to follow Christ and to conform ourselves to him, who is the ultimate goal of our human existence” (Angelus, Nov. 1, 2011).
“We therefore humbly ask: ‘Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us!’ Help us imitate your life of devotion to Our Lord, summed up in your dying words: ‘Jesos konoronkwa!’ – Jesus, I love you!”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Blessed Kateri's canonization "will be a great day for Canadian Catholics and a deep honour for our country."
A comprehensive biography of Bl. Kateri on the New Advent website describes her as the "Genevieve of New France," “an Indian virgin of the Mohawk tribe, born according to some authorities at the Turtle Castle of Ossernenon, according to others at the village of Gandaouge, in 1656.
“Her mother was a Christian Algonquin who had been captured by the Iroquois and saved from a captive's fate by the father of Tekakwitha, to whom she also bore a son,”
“When Tekakwitha was about four years old, her parents and brother died of small-pox, and the child was adopted by her aunts and an uncle who had become chief of the Turtle clan and who were strongly opposed to Christianity. Although small-pox had marked her face and seriously impaired her eyesight and her manner was reserved and shrinking, her aunts began when she was yet very young to form marriage projects for her, from which, as she grew older, she shrank with great aversion.
“When she was 10 years old, her village moved to Caughnawaga (today Fonda, New York). In 1667, her village was visited by the Jesuit missionaries Fathers Fremin, Bruyas and Pierron accompanying the Mohawk deputies who had been to Quebec to conclude peace with the French, who spent three days in the lodge of Tekakwitha's uncle. From them she received her first knowledge of Christianity, but although she forthwith eagerly accepted it in her heart she did not at that time ask to be baptized.
“Some time later the Turtle clan moved to the north bank of the Mohawk River, where she lived a life of remarkable virtue, at heart not only a Christian but a Christian virgin, for she firmly and often, with great risk to herself, resisted all efforts to induce her to marry.
“When Kateri turned 18, Father Jacques de Lamberville arrived to take charge of the mission in her village. Despite his misgivings, her uncle allowed her to be baptized as long as she remained in the village. Following her baptism, Kateri lived a pious and faith-filled life, spending hours in prayer and fashioning crosses out of twigs. She also refused to marry, believing that she was married to God and that no man could take God’s place in her heart. Her beliefs were met with ridicule, hostility and threats. Thus, two years after her baptism, she fled to St. Francis Xavier Mission, a Christian Mohawk village in Kahnawake, Quebec.
“There, she received her first Communion on Christmas Day 1677. She also made a vow of perpetual virginity on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1679.
“In Kahnawake, Kateri was known for her faith and holiness. She taught prayers to children, cared for the elderly and the sick, and would often attend Mass at sunrise and sunset.
“Kateri’s health deteriorated in the last years of her life. She died of tuberculosis on April 17, 1680, shortly before her 24th birthday, and was buried at St. Francis Xavier Mission. Witnesses report that within minutes of her death, the smallpox scars vanished from her face, which then radiated with beauty.
“Upon her death devotion to her began immediately to be manifested by her people. Many pilgrims visit her grave in Kahnawake where a monument to her memory was erected by the Rev. Clarence Walworth in 1884.
“It is believed that since Kateri's death many miracles have been performed through her intercession, with the sick being cured and many prayers being answered.”
Kateri was declared Venerable by Pope Pius XII on January 3, 1943, and beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980. On Dec. 19, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree officially acknowledging another miracle attributed to her intervention, which the Vatican Information Service reported will mean that the Church can soon expect that Blessed Kateri will soon be canonized, making her “the first native North American to be raised to the glory of the altars”.
Today, there are a number of shrines and centres dedicated to Kateri in both the United States and Canada, including the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha at the site of her baptism in Fonda, New York, the Kateri Centre at her burial site at the St. Francis Xavier Mission in Kahnawake, which today is in the Diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs at her birthplace in Auriesville, New York.
St. Kateri prayer card: