Daily Thought For July 14, 2018

The Lilly of the Mohawks


Bl. Kateri, the daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother, who had been taken captive by the Mohawk Indians, and of a pagan Mohawk father, was born at Ossernenon (today’s Auriesville, New York) in April 1656. Because she was born at sunrise, she was given the name Ioragade (“Sunshine”). As a result of a smallpox epidemic (1659), she lost her parents, and she was subsequently brought up by an aunt. Because Kateri’s vision had been weakened by the disease, and because she walked with her hands extended in front of her, her uncle gave her the name Tekakwitha (“who stretches out her hands”). Kateri remembered the rudiments of the Catholic faith that her mother had instilled in her, and when Jesuit missionaries visited the camp in 1667, she hesitated, in her shyness, to ask about the God whom her mother had worshiped. It was only in 1675 that she asked the missionary, who then resided at the camp, about becoming a Christian. She was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1676, and was given the name Kateri (Catherine). Because she had been harshly treated by her aunt and uncle since her conversion, the missionary suggested that she secretly go to the Indian settlement at Caughnawaga, near Montreal, where other Catholic Mohawks were then living. She arrived there in October 1677 and made her First Communion that Christmas. Her three years there were years of peace; she prayed and cared for the sick and elderly. Due to excessive acts of penance, her health failed, and she died at Caughnawaga on April 17, 1680. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980. The monument, which marks the site of her original tomb, bears the inscription: “the most beautiful flower that blossomed.”


Tylenda, J. N. (2003). Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year (pp. 129–130). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

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