CNA STAFF, Jul 12, 2009 / 04:49 am (CNA).- On July 14, the Church will celebrate the feast day of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to be beatified. Known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” Kateri lived a life of holiness and virtue, despite obstacles and opposition within her tribe.
Kateri was born in Auriesville, New York, in 1656 to a Christian Algonquin woman and a pagan Mohawk chief. When she was a child, a smallpox epidemic attacked her tribe and both her parents died. She was left with permanent scars on her face and impaired eyesight. Her uncle, who had now become chief of the tribe, adopted her and her aunts began planning her marriage while she was still very young.
When three Jesuit fathers were visiting the tribe in 1667 and staying in the tent of her uncle, they spoke to her of Christ, and though she did not ask to be baptized, she believed in Jesus with an incredible intensity. She also realized that she was called into an intimate union with God as a consecrated virgin.