St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)
Conversion comes with a cost. Kateri was born in what is now Auriesville, New York. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin from the Trois-Rivières area that had been taken captive and given in marriage to a Mohawk chief, Kateri’s father. A smallpox epidemic took the life of both her parents and her younger brother when Kateri was just four years old. Though Kateri survived, her face was scarred and her vision impaired. Her uncle succeeded her father as chief, and he adopted Kateri. At the age of nineteen, Kateri had the courage to seek Baptism from the Jesuit missionaries who would come to the village, knowing that it would displease her uncle. Once baptized, Kateri’s life in her community became very difficult. For example, because she would not work on Sundays, Kateri was denied food that day. So great was the opposition she faced that Kateri fled, taking refuge in the Christian First Nations village of Sault St. Louis (near Montreal). Despite the threat of poverty, Kateri took a vow of virginity at the age of twenty-three. Upon her death a year later, her scarred face was miraculously healed.
Lord God, you called the virgin Kateri Tekakwitha to shine as an example of innocence of life. Through her intercession, may all peoples of every tribe, tongue, and nation, having been gathered into your Church, proclaim your greatness in one song of praise.