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Blessed Kateri, Pray for Us

Today is the feast day of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, one of my favorite beatas and the first Native American put on the path to sainthood. Pat Gohn does an excellent job of looking at this young women who many of us hold in great affection:

Born in 1656 in the Mohawk River Valley in what would become Auriesville, New York, Tekakwitha had a Christian Algonquin mother and a pagan Mohawk warrior father. Tekakwitha’s battle with the small pox left her face pock-mocked and scarred, and with very poor eyesight. Her name translates to “she who bumps into things.”
[. . .]
Kateri’s joy at becoming a Christian faced open hostility from the members of her tribe. Despite this rejection, she was devoted to Christ and, knowing nothing about religious life, pledged her life to Christ as a virgin, foregoing marriage and security, making her a certain outcast among her tribe.

Kateri’s own words describe her courage in her adversity.

I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.

Do read it all. Kateri’s life was brief and challenging and yet she seems to have been very joyful in her faith, and this feastday finds her in the middle of a Vatican investigation into a possible miracle that may bring about her canonization, and possible her patronage of all those who with facial injuries, and insecurities about their appearance:

At the trauma unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Craig Rubens, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, instantly suspected a flesh-eating bacterium called strep A. It was consuming Jake’s face with terrifying speed.

“It’s like lighting one end of a parchment paper,” he says, “and you just watch it spread from that corner very fast, and you’re stamping it on one side, and it’s flaming up on another.”

Dr. Richard Hopper, chief of plastic surgery at Seattle Children’s, had never seen a case so dire.

“It’s almost as if you could watch it moving in front of your eyes,” he says. “The redness and the swelling — we would mark it and within the hour it would have spread another half-inch.”

After giving little Jake Last Rites, a priest suggested his family seek the intercessory prayers of Bl. Kateri. You’ll have to read the rest to find out what happened!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Ann

    Please pray, through the intercession of Blessed Kateri Tekekwitha, for the complete and speedy recovery of my husband from Bell’s Palsy. This is a (usually temporary) paralysis of the facial nerves of the left side of his face. It has caused him a great deal of discomfort, pain, and fear. Thank you.

    [My nephew had that going on, too, a few years ago. Still affects him when he's very fatigued. I will also ask Bl. Kateri to intercede for you, and add my prayers! -admin]

  • Ann

    Thank you very much, thank you.

  • Aimee

    Thank you for the article–I have to say, I always hate reading the comments on NPR on these kinds of stories, and yet I can’t stop myself. The article needs some fact-checking by a real Catholic, as the writer doesn’t “get” sainthood–nonetheless, I have never heard of Kateri before and am glad that I now know about her!

  • http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com Sister Laurel M O’Neal, Er Dio

    HI there!
    Many thanks for the reference to my blog in your recent post on Of Gods and Men. Could I ask you to consider linkong your blog to mine in your blog roll? Thanks for the consideration.

    Sister Laurel, Er Dio
    Stillsong Hermitage

  • zmama

    Thanks for this post Anchoress. I had forgotten it was Kateri’s feastday yesterday. I was more focused on it being my dad’s birthday, the first since he passed away on Easter Monday. Kateri is a favorite of mine, has been since I was a little girl and is now a favorite of my daughter who did a power point (!) presentation this past year as her 3rd grade saint’s project. I am hoping to take her up to Auriesville and Fonda NY this summer to visit Kateri’s shrine as well as the shrine of the North American martyrs. My dad was Jesuit trained and was a big fan of St. Isaac Jogues and his companions. I remember Dad sharing stories about them when we were young. I love that Kateri’s feast day is on Dad’s birthday. I would love to travel to Rome for her canonization if it happens in my lifetime.

  • Mary Cay

    One of the newer areas of my city has a Kateri Way. I had only known that she was a Blessed and Native American.It was lovely to learn more about her.Thank you!

  • http://hotmail martha hamada

    Dear Ann,
    Thank you for letting us know about Blessed Kateri. When i thought at a Catholic school, we read some about her. But after I went to teach at a public school, as you know, all that went away. my prayers are with you and your husband.
    We missed you at our luncheon last Saturday-but thought about you. Hope we can see each other soon.
    God bless you and yours,
    Martha Serrano Hamada


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