Kateri Tekakwitha (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: Because of her heroic practice of prayer, chastity, mortification, and Christian virtue, this Iroquois virgin became the first Native American woman to be beatified by the Roman Catholic Church. Devotion to Kateri Tekakwitha is responsible for establishing Native American Ministries in Catholic churches throughout the United States and Canada.
Kateri Tekakwitha was born in Ossernenon in the Mohawk Valley in 1656, near what is today Auriesville, New York. Her Indian name, Tekakwitha, means “putting things in order,” and her Christian surname Kateri (Catherine) was given to her at her baptism at age twenty-one in Fonda, New York. Her mother, Kahenta, was a Christian Algonquin who had been captured by the Iroquois and saved from torture and death by the Mohawk warrior Kenhoronkwa, to whom she also bore a son. Kenhoronkwa was a member of the Tortoise clan of the Iroquois Nation, one of the designated groups listed by the Great Council at the beginning of the Five Nations Confederacy.
When Tekakwitha was four, her parents and brother died in a smallpox epidemic that swept through the Mohawk Valley. The arrival of the Jesuits coincided with the beginning of a series of epidemics that wiped out at least half the population of eastern Canada and adjacent parts of the United States that began in the period 1634-1640 and recurred periodically for the next half century. Kateri survived,...
(The entire section is 1661 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Kateri Tekakwitha (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Indian nun, was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 1980.
The daughter of a Mohawk father and a Christian mother of the Erie tribe who had been taken captive by Mohawks, Kateri Tekakwitha was orphaned at the age of four as a result of a smallpox epidemic. The epidemic almost claimed her as well, and the disease left her with a scarred face and failing eyesight. She was reared by extended family members in a Mohawk village in present-day upstate New York. Some family members were opposed to Christianity, while others espoused it. Tekakwitha became entangled in this conflict because she had desired to practice Christianity, but family members arranged a marriage for her with an anti-Christian young man.
Tekakwitha rebelled by escaping from her village and traveling north to the budding Roman Catholic Mohawk community of Kahnawake, along the St. Lawrence River. Once there, she was baptized and became known for her extreme devotion to Christianity, excessive self-mortification, fasting, and other forms of penance. Tekakwitha also ministered to the needs of the sick and elderly at Kahnawake, and, along with several other young women, desired to form a convent. The Jesuit missionaries did not allow them to do this, but they did permit Tekakwitha to take a “vow of perpetual chastity.” Her health failing, the young woman died prematurely on April 17, 1680, according to Jesuit...
(The entire section is 401 words.)