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«« Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Kateri Tekakwithaweb

48 x 48, oil on canvas, 2010        $1,800.00

Kateri was the daughter of Kenneronkwa, a Mohawk chief, and Kahenta, a Roman Catholic Algonquian woman.  She was born in the Mohawk fortress of Ossernenon near present-day Auriesville, New York.  When Kateri was four, smallpox swept through Ossernenon, and left Kateri an orphan.  She was then adopted by her uncle, who was a chief of the Turtle Clan.  As the adopted daughter of the chief, many young men sought her hand in marriage, inspite of the disfigured face smallpox had left her.  She realized that this was only for political purposes and was disgusted by the idea of a loveless marriage.  During this time she took an interest in Christianity.

Kateri was baptised in 1676 by Father Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit.  It was at her baptism that she took the name Kateri, a Mohawk pronunciation of the French name Catherine.  Tekakwitha literally means “she moves things.”

Unable to understand her new found religious zeal, members of her tribe often chastised her or assaulted her physically, which she took as a testament to her faith.  Kateri exercised physical mortification as a route to sanctity.  She occasionally put thorns upon her sleeping mat and lay on them, while praying for the conversion and forgiveness of her kinsmen.  Kateri believed that offering her blood was an imitation of Christ’s crucifixion.  She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of 24.