CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 21. . . .February 3, 2012
In Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, children will learn the true story about Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha who is often called the Lily of the Mohawks. Although her life was short, she endured many challenges and hardships, and it was apparent to all that she had a great devotion to Jesus Christ. Tekakwitha was born in 1656, into a Mohawk nation, in Ossernenon, now known as Auriesville, NY. From a young age, Tekakwitha would learn stories about Jesus from her mother, Kahenta, and only when they were alone because many of the other villagers did not trust the Europeans and did not want to learn their beliefs. When Tekakwitha was a small child, her entire family got sick with smallpox, and her mother, father, and baby brother all died. Although Tekakwitha did recover, the disease left her scarred, very frail and with very poor vision. Tekakwitha continued to learn about Jesus from her mother's friend, Anastasia, until she moved to another village where other followers of Jesus lived. Tekakwitha then went to live with her uncle and two aunts.
It was during this time that French priests arrived at the village. They were called the Black robes by the Mohawks. Tekawitha, although very shy, loved listening to their teachings. She started realizing that she was different from other girls who loved singing and dancing while she preferred private prayer. Then one day, she gained enough courage to ask a priest if she could be baptized. She was then given the new name Kateri, a form of Catherine, as her saint's name. After Kateri's baptism, many of the villagers were unkind to her. Then her family decided she should marry, but Kateri Tekakwitha only wanted to devout her life to doing God's work. After consulting with Father de Lamberville, she knew she must leave her home and go the village in Lower Canada where her friend Anastasia had moved many years before. Knowing that her uncle would not approve, Kateri Tekakwitha, along with her guides, snuck out of the village one night. The journey was long, but they finally reached their destination. Here, she could live the life of prayer and devotion that she always wanted. She was at the mission for four years before she died on April 17, 1680.
Kim Skarra is a school librarian at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Elementary School in Calgary, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.