Canadians flock to Rome for canonization of Mohawk


A wooden statue of Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th century Mohawk woman who the Vatican will canonize later this year, seen in St. Peter’s Chapel at the National Kateri Shrine in Fonda, New York. Kateri will become the first Native American saint in the Catholic church. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA

MONTREAL—A Mohawk woman will on Sunday become the first Native American to be canonized a Catholic saint, in a ceremony in the Vatican 300 years after her death, and 1,500 fellow Canadians will be there.

Kateri Tekakwitha, known as “Lily of the Mohawks,” was born in 1656 in what is now Auriesville in the US state of New York, but died while serving the church in Kahnawake in what is now Canada’s Quebec province.

For centuries she has been a symbol of hope for Native Americans, despite the grim details of her short and painful life.

Converted by Jesuits, the young woman who was left scarred and partially blind from smallpox devoted her life to God to an extent that stunned even European missionaries.

She died aged 24, after years of self-flagellation and deteriorating health, but according to tradition among some believers her scars disappeared, leaving her skin smooth and her face beautiful.

Tekakwitha was declared “venerable” by the church in 1943 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980. Her qualifying miracle for sainthood, according to the Vatican, was curing a boy of a flesh-eating disease.

For many Native Americans, especially among the Mohawk and other Iroquois tribes straddling the US-Canadian border, Kateri’s sainthood was already overdue decades ago.

The Vatican needed a certified miracle from the tribeswoman, so followers submitted reports of dozens: everything from healing the sick to levitating a man off the ground and appearing herself, hovering in deerskin clothes.

None of these passed muster. But then in 2006 doctors in Seattle confirmed an astonishing event.

Against all medical expectations, an 11-year-old Native American boy fatally ill with a flesh-eating bacteria made a full recovery. His parents had been praying for Kateri’s grace.

After five years’ deliberation, this report convinced the Vatican, and Pope Benedict XVI cleared Kateri for canonization.

A dozen Canadian bishops including Richard Smith, archbishop of Edmonton, Alberta, and head of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Lionel Gendron, bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil diocese in Quebec where Tekakwitha’s tomb and a shrine are located, will be on hand for her canonization by Pope Benedict XVI, said church spokesman Rene Laprise.

At her final resting place a massive screen will be erected so locals can watch the ceremony broadcast back from Saint Peter’s Basilica.

In Canada, many Native Americans see Tekakwitha’s canonization as a step toward healing old divisions between North America’s original inhabitants and European settlers.

It may also take some of the sting out of anger over the Catholic Church’s role in attempts to assimilate natives at residential schools.

A group of former residential school students will be among the delegation attending her canonization.

But south of the border in the United States, Native Americans are split.

Alicia Cook from upstate New York told Syracuse’s The Post-Standard newspaper: “The church has been telling us for years we’re heathens. The white man has hurt us enough.”

But former altar boy Doug George-Kanentiio said: “I had a lot of anger at the church at the things they had done to the native people and the world and the moral compromises they made.

“It took me a while to begin to adopt a different approach to this, not one based on history, but compassion for a young woman who was determined she was going to emulate the suffering of Jesus Christ. That passion is remarkable.”

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  • Platypus09

    St. Kateri, pray for us..

  • usapan2

    idolatry na ito.

    • Carlos Porras

      how can it be idolatry? do we even worship her? we pray to her so she can pray for us. no different for a child praying to his deceased mother asking to pray for him. :-)

      Pax & God bless!

      • mobius19

        how can the dead pray for you?

        “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; … ” Ecc. 9:5

  • Matambaka

     St. Kateri,“Lily of the Mohawks” pray for us…

  • Banono

    The Lord Jesus Christ said:

    “You hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15)

    This is very much applicable to this people and all of that is under the acquiescence of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Why spread all this misleading which is continually damning the ordinary Filipino people and making them doubly liable to burn in the fire of Gehenna?

    Should the Roman Catholic Church instead tell its people to seek God’s teachings by reading the Bible? Ah blind leading the blinds will indeed all end up in the pit.

    God-fearing and God-seeking people read, study and practice the teachings of the Bible before it’s too late. The Lord Jesus Christ’s coming will not be suspended forever and our waiting will not be forever, soon the entire world will come face to face with the Lord.

    God bless!

    • Albin


    • Carlos Porras

      The Catholic Church have been studying and READING AND PRACTICING teachings of Christ not only from the BIBLE but from TRADITIONS as well right from DAY 1 when St. Peter stood in front of the Jews catechizing them about Christ. 
      You are going SOLA SCRIPTURA or known as BIBLE ALONE FAITH which is considered as a heresy . Bible and Traditions go hand in hand together. Everything you need to know is not just in the BIBLE it is within THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. Plus Only the Catholic Church has the authority to INTERPRET these SACRED SCRIPTURES SINCE SCRIPTURES CAME FROM THE CHURCH. Not even you or i have authority to say yours and my interpetation is the right interpretation of the SCRIPTURE. 
      You cannot separate the Bible from the Church who wrote and compiled these books. 

      God bless!

      With Love in Christ,

      • Banono

        What a baloney and chutzpah my friend, where did you get such an audacious claims? Are you insinuating that the Bible was written only for theologians, scholars, priests, pastors, apologists, what have you?

        No man, such stand is the mainstays of cult to claim that only a selected clique of people has the ability to interpret the Bible and know its meaning. The Bible was written for ordinary people who believe and worship God and His Messiah the Lord Jesus Christ. Now tell me if the following Bible verses I will be quoting needs the expertise of those learned people and their exegetical acrobatics.

        The apostle Paul wrote:

        “For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. “ (2 Corinthians 1:13)

        Now again Moses himself said:

        “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

        Stop preventing and scaring ordinary people from coming to know God from His written words – the Bible or you will force God’s hand to deal with you so severely even before your time. You are playing as Satan’s accomplice if you will continue to do so, desist my friend!

        The apostle John even wrote regarding the New Testament:

        “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

      • TON_SING_WAH

         do not just send us some chapter or the whole bible….


       if you are protestant your religion is founded by a man.real truth..justification can be done by faith and works,,.

  • RyanE

    Hmm.. I just wonder a millennium from now if all of these acts will still be practiced or relevant?

  • Carlos Porras

    it will still be practiced by the Faithful Christians. The Catholic Church has survived 2 millenniums already.. It will last forever as Christ has promised, “NOT EVEN the GATES OF HELL WILL PREVAIL AGAINST HER.”

    Pax and God bless!

  • Aldrine Rey Mancera

    . . .


    Catholic is founded by Jesus the year 33,,AND GROW UP TO 40,000 + DENOMINATION. this BRANCHES OF RELIGION SOME FOUNDED BY EARLY CATHOLIC..THESE ARE THE PROTESTANT….BY CATHOLIC MONK..MARTIN LUTHER THE FIRST PROTESTANT..THY KINGDOM COME ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.what the early tradition taught to us.our place OF WORSHIP IS HOLY..we don’t need false prophet.WE THE ORIGINAL..NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT..ask your pastor..real truth..only

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