First Native American Saint to be Venerated by the Vatican

‘Lily of the Mohawks,’ or Kateri Tekakwitha will become the first Native American saint venerated by the Catholic Church.  This woman was born in 1656 and lived to be 24 years old.  She will be canonized on Sunday after a young boy was miraculously cured of a flesh-eating disease through prayer and placing a relic of Kateri on his leg in 2006.  MSNBC article here.

What I find most interesting about this article is how it brings to light the complexities of relationships between indigenous peoples and the Catholic Church.  The article states that Kateri was, “ostracized and persecuted by other natives for her faith,” as she was baptized Catholic by Jesuit missionaries.  On the other hand, currently, “There’s been a growing sense of a return to Native American spirituality on reservations, which are good things, but at the same time along with that has been some criticism that native people should let go of Christianity because that was brought by the ‘white man’ and should go back to their own native culture entirely.”

It’s a complex issue with complex implications for the future of religion.

What is also interesting to me about this article is the relevance of time.   Kateri’s posthumous sainthood is indeed a statement of the rippling effect of our lives–although something may not be realized, actualized, or manifested during one’s own 100-year life span (in her case, 24 years), we each do indeed affect the whole.

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