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Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
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Religious Figure
    (circa 1656-April 17, 1680)
    Born in Auriesville, New York
    Native American and Catholic saint
    Of Algonquin and Mohawk ancestry
    Remembered for her humility, intense devotion to her faith and dedication to helping the sick
    First Native American to be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church
    Canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 10th, 20012
    Co-patron saint of the environment and ecology along with Saint Francis of Assisi
    Kateri is a French diminutive of Catherine, her baptismal name which she took from Catherine of Siena
    Tekakwitha is a Mohawk word meaning 'She who bumps into things.'
    She practiced extreme forms of mortification to the point where she was forbidden to continue in the practice without her priest's supervision.
    Some contemporary Native Americans, including Mohawks reject her as a role model, linking her conversion to Christianity with colonialism.
    She was so opposed to being married that when her aunt brought a potential suitor by for supper she hid in a field.
    She is not believed to have ever learned to read and write.
    The actual cause of her death is unclear.
    As a woman she would never have actually worn one of those cool Mohawk haircuts.
    She suffered from smallpox as a child in an epidemic that killed her entire family; father (the village chief), mother and younger brother leaving her to be raised by her father's sister and her family.
    As she grew older, she was so ashamed of her smallpox scars that she would always wear a blanket over her head. (Pictured)
    She was reportedly highly skilled at various Native American crafts especially farming and leather-working.
    She was very humble and a tireless and uncomplaining worker and devoted to helping the sick.
    An estimated three hundred plus books in at least twenty different languages have been written about her.
    Although initially shunned by many fellow Native Americans including her own family for converting to Christianity, her example of personal holiness eventually inspired her family and many of her fellow Native Americans to convert to Christianity.
    According to multiple eyewitnesses, when she died at the tragically young age of twenty-four her smallpox scars were instantly healed leading the priest present to scream and run out of the room.
    Her tombstone, written by her tribesmen reads, 'The fairest flower that ever bloomed among red men.'

Credit: tom_jeffords


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