Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Though scarred from smallpox all her life, St. Kateri Tekawitha was a beautiful witness to the love of Christ. She was born in 1656 in present day Auriesville, New York. Her mother was a Christian from the Algonquin tribe and her father was Mohawk chief. At 4-years-old, she lost her parents and younger brother to smallpox, which, in addition to her scars, left her with very poor eyesight. She was adopted by her uncle’s family and lived with them in their longhouse. When missionary priests, often called ‘Blackrobes,’ visited her village, Tekawitha was intrigued by their message. She was baptized on Easter Sunday 1676 and named Kateri, after St. Catherine of Siena. However, Kateri was often treated poorly by her family for her Christian faith, so in July 1677 she escaped from her village. Kateri traveled over 200 miles to a Catholic mission near Montreal, Canada. The priests at the mission continued to instruct her in the Faith and Kateri made her First Communion on Christmas Day 1677. At the mission, Kateri was known for her charity and her beautiful devotion to prayer. She died on April 17, 1680, at the age of 24 and her feast day is July 14.