A procession in Cortez on Sunday, July 12 will present a handpainted banner picture from Italy and begin the celebration to honor of the First Native American Saint, St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
The procession from Montezuma Park across the street from St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic Church, W. Montezuma Avenue and North Market Street, will begin at 10:30 a.m.
Several Native Americans from Cortez attended her canonization by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on Oct. 21, 2012. This is the first local celebration of this historic event.
Kateri was born in upstate New York about 1656. Her father was a Mohawk Chief of the Turtle Clan.
A captured Algonguin by the Iroquois, her mother was a baptized Christian. When Kateri was 4, her parents and her brother died from smallpox.
The epidemic left Kateri with darkened eyesight and a scarred face, and she was named “Tekakwitha” – “she who bumps into things.”
She began studying the Catholic religion in secret. She was baptized at Easter in 1675 by a Jesuit.
Her own people began to persecute her after her conversion. So, she fled 200 miles by foot to the Jesuit Mission near Montreal. She cared for the sick and aged, devoting her life to prayer and penitential practices.
In 1679, she made a vow of chastity – as far as she got with her dream of a religious life.
On April 17, 1680 Kateri died at the age of 24 as the first Native American consecrated virgin. The fire of her love of God made a profound impact on her fellow converts and on the missionaries who knew her. Fifteen minutes after her death, her pockmarked face grew clear.
She was beatified in 1980 by St. John Paul II, and her relics enshrined in Montreal. She is called the “Lily of the Mohawks” and “Apostle of the Indians.”
Native Americans are invited to wear ceremonial robes, bring Native musical instruments to attend the celebration after the 10:30 Mass.