Catholics from Osage and non-Osage backgrounds gathered Oct. 20 in Pawhuska to celebrate the Roman Catholic Church’s first ever canonization of a Native American.
The following day, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Kateri Tekakwitha, who was called “Lily of the Mohawks,” at the Vatican in Rome. The canonization makes the 17th century Mohawk woman the first Native American Saint. She was previously known as Blessed Kateri.
At Pawhuska’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, scores of worshippers gathered for a mass celebration and dedication of the recently built outdoor wooden chapel, built near the 8-foot bronze statue of now-named Saint Kateri.
According to the Tulsa World, the Kateri shrine is inspired by the late Opal Delos Rector, an Osage who said she survived 24 years with breast cancer after praying to Kateri. In a 2001World article, Rector said: “I want the people of Pawhuska, and especially the Indian people, to know that God loves them and that he has given them a strong advocate in Blessed Kateri. She prays for us constantly.”
Rector is buried in the Pierce St. John Cemetery after passing in 2002, according to a Web site dedicated to the cemetery history.
Kateri’s sainthood comes after she was deemed worthy of the canonization on Dec. 19, 2011. She was declared Blessed Kateri on June 22, 1980 by the late Pope John Paul II.
Saint Kateri was born in 1656 in nearby Ossernenon (now Auriesville, N.Y.) to a Mohawk warrior and a Catholic Algonquin woman. According to the Catholic Transcript Online, Kateri’s brother and parents died in a smallpox outbreak when she was four years old. She survived, scarred and nearly blinded, and went to live with her father’s brother, Iowerano, the new chief of the Turtle clan.
The clan moved across what is now called the Mohawk River after Ossernenon was ravaged in 1666 by a Canadian regiment sent to subdue the Iroquois. Kateri was baptized a Catholic at age 20.
Persecuted for her new faith, in 1677 Kateri joined a Christian community in Canada, where she cared for the sick and the aged. She took a vow of chastity in 1679. When Kateri died in 1680 just before she turned 24, witnesses claimed that her scars vanished, revealing great beauty.
See more photos taken at the Oct. 20 honoring and dedication of Saint Kateri Tekakwith on the Osage News Flickr page. The link is at:www.flickr.com/photos/osagenews/sets/72157631963908157/
Original Publish Date: 2012-11-06 00:00:00