Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (c. 1656-1680) was a gentle and courageous child. She was born in a heavily wooded area of North America, now known as Auriesville, New York.
Her mother, Kahenta, was a Christian of the Algonquin nation. Her father was a member of the Mohawk nation. When she was very young, her parents and brother died of smallpox. Little Tekakwitha survived the sickness, but it left her weakened and scarred.
Tekakwitha had very limited contact with Christianity as a child but she was drawn to quiet contemplation even as other children played. When she was about 11, Jesuits priests were invited to visit her village. For the next few years, Tekakwitha learned about Christianity and felt called to dedicate her life to the practice. When she was baptized, she took the name Catherine (Kateri). A few years later, she left for a Christian community in Kahnawake, Quebec. There she found a greater freedom to live as she felt called to do.
Never strong because of the affects of smallpox, Kateri Tekakwitha died about age 24. But in her short lifetime, she reached such holiness she was canonized a saint in 2012.
Her life shows us that no matter what hardships and handicaps we experience, we can become close to God.
Kateri is a patron saint of ecology, along with Saint Francis of Assisi.
Create your own illustrations of Kateri’s story by clicking on the “download graphics” button below.
- Little Kateri Tekakwitha with her mother and baby brother in their long house
- Kateri Tekakwitha helping in the gardens
- Kateri Tekakwitha sees a moose having lunch in a lake
- Kateri Tekakwitha making a cross with sticks
- Kateri Tekakwitha, now a young woman, praying