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Kateri Among the Communion of Saints

On October 21, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI raised seven men and women into the communion of saints, including the first Native American saint, Kateri Tekakwitha, and a French Jesuit missionary, Fr. Jacques Berthieu, SJ, who served in Madagascar.

Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in Ossernenon (now Auriesville), a Mohawk village in upstate New York.  Her father was a Mohawk chief, and her Catholic mother was a member of the Algonquin nation.

A smallpox epidemic wiped out most of her village and family, but she survived the outbreak.  Left an orphan at age 4, she was raised by members of her father’s family. Saint Kateri suffered from poor eyesight and ill health the rest of her life because of the illness. She was deeply moved by the preaching of the Jesuits who traveled among the villages and was baptized at age 20. Saint Kateri dedicated her life to prayer, penance, caring for the sick and infirm and adoration of the Eucharist.  In 1677, she began a 200-mile trek to a Jesuit mission in Canada where she could more openly practice her faith.   Her health continued to deteriorate, and she died on April 17, 1680 at age 24.  He last reported words were: “Jesus! Mary! I love you.” 

Pope Pius XII declared her venerable in 1943, the first step toward sainthood. Pope John Paul II beatified Kateri, known as the Lily of the Mohawks, in 1980.  Pope Benedict XVI approved the miracle needed for sainthood on December 19, 2011, citing her intervention in the recovery of a young boy in Washington who was gravely ill from flesh-eating bacteria.  The Pope announced on February 18, 2012 that Kateri would be canonized and welcomed into the communion of saints on October 21, 2012. She is the first Native American to be so honored.

A Mass of Thanksgiving, celebrated by Fr. George Belgarde, SJ, took place on October 21 at the Jesuit Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville, N.Y. Visitors could view a series of paintings related to Saint Kateri by the artist Bob Renaud.

For more information on Saint Kateri and the Jesuit martyrs, visit

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Resources

Listen to Sr. Kateri Mitchell’s first-person account of the miracle leading to Blessed Kateri’s canonization and the role that Saint Kateri has played in her life and those of indigenous Native Americans.  Sr. Mitchell, SSA,  is the executive director of the Tekakwitha Conference in Great Falls, Mont.

Elizabeth Lynch, museum coordinator of the Jesuit Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville, N.Y., talks about how Saint Kateri has inspired individuals from diverse backgrounds and the connection between Saint Kateri and the Jesuit Martyrs Shrine in the growth and development of the Catholic faith.

Fr. Peter Schineller, SJ, archivist for the New York Province of the Society of Jesus, discusses the canonization process for Saint Kateri and the meaning of her life for us today.

Visit the Tekakwitha Conference website at

Listen to an interview on EWTN with Beth Lynch from the Jesuit Martyrs Shrine and Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ. For additional resources go to 

Click here to view a slideshow of various paintings and sculpture depicting Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and the grounds of the Jesuit Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville, N.Y.