Five facts about St. Kateri Tekakwitha

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By Derek Pettinelli


St. Kateri Tekakwitha’s feast day is July 14. Here are five quick facts about her. St. Kateri, pray for us!

 

1. St. Kateri Tekakwitha was the first Native American saint in the United States and Canada

St. Kateri Tekakwitha was a Mohawk woman who lived from 1656 to 1680. She was born to an Algonquin mother and a Mohawk chief in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon in upstate New York.

 

2. “Tekakwitha” means “she who bumps into things”

St. Kateri Tekakwitha’s family all passed away from an outbreak of smallpox when she was around 4 years old. She survived the disease; however, it left her face scarred and her eyesight impaired. It was because of this damage to her vision that she was called Tekakwitha.

 

3. St. Kateri is honored in four national shrines in the United States

The shrines are: Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, New York; National Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda, New York; The National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods in Indian River, Michigan; and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. 

 

4. St. Kateri Tekakwitha died just before turning 24

She died of illness on April 17, 1680 and was buried in present day Kahnawake, Quebec. It is said that after her death, the marks on her face from her smallpox faded away.

 

5. Pope Benedict XVI canonized her on Oct. 21, 2012

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the patroness of ecology and the environment, as well as people in exile and Native Americans. She is often called “Lily of the Mohawks.” 

Derek Pettinelli

Derek Pettinelli is a 2017 graduate of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, with a bachelor of arts degree in writing and mass communications and political science.