Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th century Native American woman, is a religious figure who’s known as the protector of ecology, nature, and the environment.
During Sunday morning Mass at a church in Rome, Tekakwitha was welcomed into the canon of saints after she was credited with saving the life of an 11-year-old boy who was infected with a bacterial disease.
“He was someone like Kateri who was of Native American ancestry and who also has facial disfigurement as she had; she had survived the small pox epidemic. There’s that correlation between the two but that’s all part of the process of canonization,” says Beth Lynch who’s the Museum Manager of National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in New York
Tekakwitha is the daughter of a Mohawk chief and an Algonquin Catholic and Lynch says the Native American woman led a life of poverty and charity, “[She] gave everything that she was and everything that she believed to Jesus Christ. She believed that she was spiritually wedded to him and she had the left the religion of her ancestors because she recognized a fuller truth and what the Jesuit missionaries, the Catholic missionaries, were teaching the Native Americans.”
A West Plymouth church is named after the religious figure and is currently going through the process of changing their name from Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.
Tekakwitha is the first Native American saint from North America.