The moment many Canadian and American Catholics, especially of American Indian descent, have been waiting for is finally on the horizon.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk and Algonquin woman who died in the odor of sanctity in 1680, will soon officially be known as Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, marking the first time that an American Indian north of Mexico has been raised to the dignity of the altars in the Catholic Church.
I share the profound joy of Kahnawakeronnon, whose mission I had the pleasure to visit a few years ago, and the joy of all American Indian communities over this truly monumental news that their patron saint has been found worthy of such an honor.
And I also have a request of the Saint herself.
I'd like to humbly entreat Kateri that she help complete a great work for her countrymen that she started the week after her death.
Here's the account of one of her biographers, Father Pierre Cholenec (1641-1743):
"The sixth day after the death of Catherine, this was Easter Monday, a virtuous person worthy of belief, being in prayer at four o'clock in the morning, she appeared to him surrounded with glory, bearing a pot full of maize, her radiant face lifted towards heaven as if in ecstasy....Furthermore, this same apparition was accompanied with several prophecies by as many symbols which were to be seen on each side of Catherine in her ecstasy; of which prophecies some have been already verified, others have not as yet. For example, at the right appeared a church overturned, and opposite at the left an Indian attached to a stake and burned alive...Father Cholenec has left us a brief but precious account of the deaths--really martyrdoms--of these three Indians of Kateri's mission:
As for the Indian seen in this apparition, attached to the stake and burned alive, that was sufficiently verified some years after, when an Indian of this mission was burned at Onondaga, and two women the two following years; and as we do not doubt at all that Catherine, who had made it known so long beforehand, obtained for these Indians the invincible constancy that they showed in their torments, we will speak of it at the end of this third book as a marvellous effect of the power she has in heaven.
Steven TegananokoaTheir stories were retold in various Indian-language publications in the 1800s, and their Causes were even included in a group of over 100 "Martyrs of the United States" that was submitted by the American bishops to the Vatican in 1941.
So who exactly were these three "Iroquois Martyrs" whom Cholenec believed won their crowns thanks to Kateri's intercession?
Over the course of the next week or two, this blog will tell their stories. And I pray that as Kateri's Cause nears toward completion, she will continue to intercede with God on behalf of theirs.