This morning at the 9am Mass I preached with what I hope was fervor on the North American Martyrs – in particular St. Isaac Jogues. During my canonical retreat in preparation for my priesthood ordination my classmates and I listened to the audio version of the Lives of the North American Martyrs – and since then I cannot help but say with the French pronunciation of Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brebeuf! (I’m sure that got annoying after the 4th or 5th time!)
I am consistently moved by St. Isaacs desire for martyrdom and his return to North America even after his horrific torture – knowing he would surely face martyrdom. As we’ve been told for so long – the blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the faith. So impressive and moving are the tales of the North American Martyrs – so inspirational is their story even to our own time.
On my way to the World Youth Day in Toronto the diocesan group with which I was traveling stopped for a Mass in Auriesville, N.Y. – The Shrine of the North American Martyrs. So beautiful and peaceful is that valley that is stained with the blood of the holy Jesuit martyrs. It is also the birthplace of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. I’ve never forgotten my visit to the shrine, mainly because of the peace that is found in the valley there.
This morning at Mass I unfortunately forgot to mention something that will be happening in Rome this weekend. Thanks be to God, though, a parishioner pointed out my omision immediately after Mass and a small group of us were able to talk about the great saints of New York. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and Blessed Maryanne Cope will be canonized by Pope Benedict on Sunday. Most people don’t seem to know too much about either of these wonderful women. Both of them have ties to New York.
Cardinal Dolan on his blog had this to say about them:
Kateri is particularly loved by our Native Americans of the Mohawk and Algonquin tribes, many of whom are here in Rome for the big event. She heard about Jesus and His Church through the early French Jesuit missionaries to our state (some of whom themselves are now venerated as saints, known as the North American Martyrs, whose feast is today), and became a Catholic in 1676. In her brief twenty-four years of life, she was renowned for her charity, prayer, and humility. Her example was radiant, attracting then and now many to Jesus and His Church, and her intercessory power through prayer has been renowned.
Mother Maryanne Cope was the daughter of a German immigrant family here in the state. As a Sister of St. Francis, she accepted an invitation from Hawaii to come and serve the lepers. There she joined St. Damien of Molokai to love the abandoned, scorned lepers, and did so with extraordinary fortitude, patience, and humility.
Needless to say, we in New York are proud of soon-to-be St. Kateri and St. Maryanne Cope. Their canonization is a good time to recall that we, too, are called to be saints . . . that’s the universal
Needless to say, we in New York are proud of soon-to-be St. Kateri and St. Maryanne Cope. Their canonization is a good time to recall that we, too, are called to be saints . . . that’s the universalcall to holiness.
Saints Kateri and Marianne, Pray for us!
Sister Maryanne Walsh over at the USCCB Blog posted a nice overview of the “State of the Saints”:
New Yorkers may seem hardened and cynical, but they can still take notice of miracles within their borders. Hence, their pride in having two new saints to their claim. The first, Kateri Tekakwitha, known as “the Lily of the Mohawks,” lived her faith in the area of Amsterdam, a relatively short distance from the state capital, Albany. She did so despite fierce opposition from her tribe and died in 1680. The other, Mother Marianne Cope, a member of the Syracuse Franciscan nuns, gave her life to helping the poor, especially those outcasts with Hansen’s disease, on a leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. She died in 1918. Both will be canonized October 21 by Pope Benedict XVI. From the Empire State’s perspective, this gives New York State “pride of ownership’ of seven of the 12 formally acknowledged saints in the United States.
Saints in the state were heralded in The New York Times last Saturday in an informative article by Times editorial writer Lawrence Downes.
Mr. Downes’ highlighting of 12 American saints made journalist factfinders pause. The Catholic Church says the country claims ten official saints. The New York Daily News called the bishops’ conference to ask about the discrepancy. A little research discovered that while the Vatican speaks of Jesuit St. Isaac Jogues and his companions in martyrdom as one addition to the roll of saints, The New York Times counted by name two of Jogues’ martyred companions, René Goupil and Jean de la Lande. Thus, for The Times, the Empire State now can claim a total of seven official saints, and the nation may claim 12.
The Jesuit martyrs are held high by the Albany Diocese, home of the Shrine of the North American Martyrs near Amsterdam. Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany has been calling his see “the diocese of saints.” He notes that the diocese claims not only the three Jesuits martyred there and now Blessed Kateri, but also Mother Marianne. When the Syracuse Franciscan went to Hawaii, it was actually from the Albany Diocese since the Diocese of Syracuse didn’t exist then. It was formed later to include land from the Albany Diocese. Mr. Downes also lets New York claim the first American saint, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, a naturalized citizen who worked with Italian immigrants in New York City; and the first native U.S. saint, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of the Catholic school system, who was born in the Big Apple. From his office in Manhattan, Mr. Downes thinks of the seven saints as New Yorkers. Not bad for just one of the 50 states. Bishop Hubbard from his office in Albany notes that five of the seven were from his diocese alone. Even better for just one of the 195 dioceses in the nation.
Others also can take pride. With the canonization of Mother Marianne, U.S. nuns now have their sixth official American nun saint. In addition to Mother Marianne, they include St. Frances Xavier Cabrini; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton; St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia socialite who became a missionary to Indians and Native Americans; St. Mother Théodore Guérin, founder of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods and who opened schools in Illinois and Indiana; and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, a missionary to Native Americans, who traveled to the Louisiana Territory from France and opened the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi.
You have to smile when you look at the accomplishments of these 10 (or is it 12?) official saints. And with seven of the 12 connected to New York, and five connected to the Albany Diocese, it’s clear why even God may chant the state mantra/slogan, “I love New York.”