Nine individuals from Dewegen Kwek, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Women’s Hand Drum Group, participated in a special ceremony to mark the Sainthood of Kateri Tekakwitha at St. Gregory’s University.
The women sang a variety of water and healing songs to honor Kateri’s life as a devout Native woman and a healer.
Kateri, known as “Lily of the Mohawks,” was born in 1656 in the Mohawk Valley of present-day New York. Both of her parents were killed and Kateri was severely scarred when her village was hit by a smallpox epidemic. Smallpox also left Kateri with poor eyesight, earning her the name Tekakwitha, which means “she who bumps into things.”
Kateri was baptized and committed her life to the faith at the age of twenty. After a short but fervent life dedicated to prayer and caring for the sick and the aged, Kateri died at age twenty four.
Pope Benedict XVI named Kateri a saint on Oct. 21, 2012. Speaking in English and French, in honor of Kateri’s Canadian ties, Benedict noted how unusual it was in Kateri’s indigenous culture for her to choose to devote herself to her Catholic faith.
“May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are,” Benedict said. “Saint Kateri, protectress of Canada and the first Native American saint, we entrust you to the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America!”