St. Kateri Tekakwitha Memorial Today

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 in courageous saints | 1 comment

St. Kateri Tekakwitha’s memorial is today. I’m drawn to her as a model of virtue, so much so that I included her in my book, Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue.

I’m often asked how I pick the saints I share about in my books. The short answer is that the saints find me. I know, that’s a glib answer. The more complex one is that I enjoy reading biographies, and in the last several years, have been picking up the lives of saints. I guess I have been slowly amassing a collection of saints that I’ve been drawn to in some way. I like to think of them as my friends in heaven. The random part of that process is that, maybe, they are calling me from the shelves. I like pretty covers and clever titles.

Back to St. Kateri Tekakwitha! I spoke about her virtues. She showed an amazing amount of fortitude in her brief life. Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in the area we now know as New York. Her mother was Algonquin and her father was Mohawk. Jesuit missionaries had a strong presence in the area, and Tekakwitha’s mother converted to Christianity. Sadly, a smallpox epidemic wiped out her immediate family when Tekakwitha was only four years old. Her uncle took her in, and thus began a life of conflict for the young woman.

Tekakwitha longed for the faith of her mother, and was drawn to the Jesuit priests who taught this faith near her village. By the time she was 20, Tekakwitha had decided she would convert. She took the name Kateri, after St. Catherine of Siena, and was baptized. That led to more difficulties with her uncle, who hated the Christians. She faced ostracism and more in her village.

Eventually, when things became increasingly difficult for her, she fled to a Christian community in Montreal, Canada. A Jesuit mission had been established there, and she was able to not only find kindred spirits there, but some family, too. She had to travel hundreds of miles into an unknown area to find the peace she sought in Christ.

Although I admire St. Kateri’s fortitude to withstand the trials she faced daily, it was actually her temperance that I admired in her life. She learned to live within the limitations imposed upon her, embracing her solitude rather than fighting it.

St. Kateri died in 1680 at just 24 years old, succumbing to illness no doubt exacerbated by the physical challenges she faced in the wilderness. She was known as the Lily of the Mohawks.


Photo credit by Dieterkaupp – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,




One Comment

  1. Hello!
    My name is Maria Johnson, too! I just learned of your blog from a friend who was looking for mine! I host and produce “Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith,” a progressive-minded radio show which airs and streams from the Wesleyan University radio station and is also distributed by the Pacifica Network’s AudioPort.

    I’m writing to ask if you’d be willing to prerecord an interview about your terrific work.

    You can get a sense of the program at
    Thanks for your consideration and for letting me know your thoughts.

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