July 14 – The Lily of the Mohawks

July 12, 2012

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks

Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha painted by Father Chauchetière between 1682-1693.

Kateri Tekakwitha was daughter of Kenneronkwa, a Mohawk chief, and Tagaskouita, a devout Roman Catholic Algonquian woman. She was born in the Mohawk fortress of Ossernenon near present-day Auriesville, New York, in 1656. Kateri’s mother was baptized and educated by French missionaries in Trois-Rivières, like many of Abenaki converts.

Her chieftain father, Algonquian mother and her brother died in a plague and, though the young Tekakwitha survived the ravages of her illness, it left her delicate for the rest of her life. The Mohawk community in Ossernenon was stridently anti-Christian, yet she held fast to the faith of her mother. At the age of 20, Tekakwitha was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1676 by Father Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit. At her baptism, she took the name Kateri, a Mohawk pronunciation of the French name Catherine. Tekakwitha literally means “she moves things.”

Father Jacques de Lamberville

Those who had charge of her hated the Christian missionaries, and Kateri was persecuted because she refused to give up her Christian way of life. “I want to be a Christian, even though I should die for it,” she said. Her foster parents deprived her of all food on Sunday because she would not work in the fields on that day. Beatings, continual criticism, sarcasm and mockery were her constant lot. They tried to force marriage on her, but she was inspired to remain a virgin, and after she became a Christian she took a vow of virginity.

In time, Kateri made her way to Caughnawaga, a community of Christians. There she led a life of intense Christian virtue until her death in 1680 at the age of 24. Her renown for heroic sanctity soon spread and many miracles have been worked through her intercession.

Statue of Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha on the outside of the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Canada.

She is called “The Lily of the Mohawks,” the “Mohawk Maiden,” the “Pure and Tender Lily,” and the “Flower among True Men,” the “Lily of Purity” and “The New Star of the New World.” According to Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik’s Kateri of the Mohawks, her tribal neighbors called her “the fairest flower that ever bloomed among the redmen,” which was engraved on her tomb stone.

St. Francis Xavier Church, Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada, where Bl. Kateri is buried.

Kateri Tekakwitha followed the generation of Saints John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and Companions thus bearing out the ancient Christian saying that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”  She was beatified in 1980.  On October 21, 2012, Bl. Kateri will be canonized.

Nobility.org Editorial comment: —

How tragic is our egalitarian age.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was a Mohawk noble maiden. Her father was a Mohawh chief, though she hardly knew him, being a tender child when he died of smallpox. She was raised by an uncle, another Mohawk chief.
All North American Indian tribes had their chiefs, kings, or queens. Theirs was a primitive nobility of sorts.
But our egalitarian age tries to stamp out any trace of superiority, hierarchy, and hereditary leadership. Communism is supposed to be dead, yet the Western world increasingly adopts its radical egalitarianism.
And ironically, those most in favor of this egalitarianism want to be called “progressives” and they describe their egalitarian conquests as  “progress.” Progress towards what? Total anarchy? A more decadent savagery than that found in the most primitive and uncivilized of peoples?

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