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First Native American to be named a Catholic saint

First Native American to be named a Catholic saint

For the first time, a Native American will be named a Saint by the Vatican.

Kateri Tekakwitha is being honored for the miracles she's believed to have performed from the grave.

She was born in 1656 and was known as "the Lily of the Mohawks." Tekakwitha survived a smallpox outbreak that killed her parents and brother. The illness left her nearly blind and covered with pox marks. She fled to Canada because she was unhappy with an arranged marriage. There, she joined indigenous converts to Christianity. After taking a vow of chastity, she spent long hours in prayer and penance. She died when she was 24. Monks said all the pox marks on her body vanished.

Catholics having been pushing for Kateri Tekakwitha's sainthood since the 1880s. For that to happen, the Vatican needed proof of a miracle.

Jake Finkbonner provided the miracle Catholics were seeking. At 5, he was infected with a skin-eating bacteria. His mother says that a priest came to give Jake last rites but suggested that the parents seek Tekakwitha's intercession since they were Native American. The family says that their prayers worked, even though Jake also received medical treatment. Now recovered, Jake says that he feels like he is doing something for God and bringing more people back into God's community.

For many Native American Catholics, this is an important moment.


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About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
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