Star of the Mohawk: Kateri Tekakwitha
In the 1600s, New France was the arena for both violent upheaval and powerful change. On one hand, longtime enmity between the Mohawk nation of the Iroquois and the Algonquins of New France fuels aggressive competition for the fur trade with Europeans. On the other hand, many Algonquins, as well as those from other tribes, are embracing Christianity and choosing to live along the St Lawrence River in flourishing Christian Indian villages established by the Black Robe missionaries. Kateri Tekakwitha’s mother, an Algonquin Christian, is taken as a captive bride by a Mohawk chief. Thus, from her birth in 1656, Kateri is immersed in the life of the proud Mohawk people, with its intricate roles of women and men, their food, homes, migrations, councils and marriage arrangements. But her acceptance of her mother’s Christian God “Rawennio” puts her at odds with her Mohawk family—especially in her quiet, persistent refusal to marry. After many setbacks, she escapes to the Christian village at “the Sault.” There she is free to learn and live the Christian truths. Her life of consecrated union with Christ becomes a source of light to both her peers and her mentors—a luminance that continues to this day. Canonized on October 21, 2012, Saint Kateri presents a unique glimpse of authentic Christianity to the entire world.