Kateri Tekakwitha is called the Lily of the Mohawks. Her name Tekakwitha means “putting things in order.” She put her life in order in a short time.
Kateri was a Mohawk Indian born in what is now Auriesville, New York, ten years after Isaac Jogues and his companions were martyred there. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin Indian, and her father was a pagan Mohawk chief. Her parents and a brother died of smallpox when she was only four. Kateri recovered from the disease, but it left her eyes weak and her face scarred.
Anastasia, a friend of Kateri’s mother, took care of her and told her stories about the Christian God. When Anastasia left for Canada to join other Christians there, Kateri’s uncle, a Mohawk chief, took Kateri as his daughter.
When Kateri’s uncle and aunts wanted her to marry, she refused. She felt that the Great Spirit was the only one she could love. This angered her uncle.
Kateri learned more about God from a missionary and asked to be baptized. She was baptized on Easter Sunday. It was hard for Kateri to live as a Christian. Her people expected her to work in the fields on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Sometimes they didn’t feed her. Children made fun of her and threw stones at her. Kateri endured this for two years.
Finally a priest advised Kateri to go to Canada where she would be with other Christians. One day when her uncle was not home, she left for Canada with a Christian named Hot Ashes. When Kateri’s uncle found out she was missing, he followed her but did not catch her.
Kateri brought with her a note from the missionary priest to a Canadian priest that said, “I send you a treasure, Katherine Tekakwitha. Guard her well.” Kateri lived an outstanding Christian life. She went to Mass daily, made frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and prayed the rosary often. She cared for the sick and the old and taught the children. She did much penance.
Kateri suffered from bad headaches. She was not strong and could eat very little. When she died at the age of twenty-four, the scars on her face disappeared and she was beautiful. Kateri’s last words were, “Jesus, I love you.”