APTN National News
OTTAWA–A Mohawk woman buried in Kahnawake is taking her place among the saints.
Pope Benedict XVI on Monday signed a decree approving a miracle attributed to Kateri Tekakwitha, also known as the Lily of the Mohawks, clearing the way for her canonization.
The Vatican received evidence of Tekakwitha’s miracle in 2009 from Monsignor Paul Lenz, who sent the documentation to Rome through the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C.
Tekakwitha is credited with healing a child in the U.S. from flesh-eating disease.
The Pope also approved the miracles of six others who will also ascend to the pantheon of the Catholic Church’s saints.
The official Vatican Information Service identifies Tekakwitha as simply an “American laywoman.”
But she is much more than that to her numerous followers.
Tekakwitha died at the age of 24 in 1680 and is entombed inside the St. Francis-Xavier Church in Kahnawake, a Mohawk community near Montreal.
The Vatican has been receiving requests to canonize Tekakwitha for more than a hundred years.
She has followers throughout the Americas and in parts of Europe. Tekakwitha is celebrated every year during a festival held in her honour in Fonda, N.Y., which is about 65 kilometres northwest of Albany, the state capital.
In 1980, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II, the final stage before sainthood.
Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in a Mohawk village near Fonda. Her mother was an Algonquin who was captured around Trois-Rivieres, Que., and then married a Mohawk chief.
Her village was burned by the French and her mother, father and younger brother all died during the smallpox epidemic.
Tekakwitha survived the disease, but it left its mark on her, leaving her body weak and her face scarred.
She was baptized Catholic in 1676 and was taken to a village around what is now Kahnawake and Ville Sainte-Catherine after she faced pressure from her family to give up the religion.
Tekakwitha stood only about 4 and-a-half feet tall and frequently fasted. It is said Tekakwitha once scattered thorns on her bed and lay on them for three nights.
When she died, it was reported her face lost its scars and she became beautiful. Her crucifix, pieces of her garments and dirt from her grave were said to have healing powers.