(To print the coloring page, go to the PDF HERE to print from Google Drive. )
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, pronounced, ‘gaderi dega’ gwita in Mohawk, is one of my favorite saints. Her father was a Mohawk chief and her Catholic mother was from the Algonquin tribe. Kateri was the first Native American Saint. She was born in 1656 in the village of Ossernenon in the state of New York. Her parents died from small pox but Kateri survived. Her face became disfigured by the pox and her eyesight suffered from the disease. She was known to wear a blanket over her head to cover the small pox scars. Orphaned at the age of four, she went to live with her father’s sister and husband of the Turtle Clan. The survivors of the small pox epidemic moved to a village close to the Mohawk River and named the new village, Caughnawaga. In 1667 Jesuit missionaries Father Jacques Frémin, Father Jacques Bruyas, and Father Jean Pierron came to the area of the Caughnawaga village. In 1669 the village was attacked by Mohican warriors. Kateri brought food and water to the prisoners as Father Pierron catechized and baptized them before they were tortured to death. Kateri was baptized into the Catholic faith around the age of 18 taking the name Catherine after Saint Catherine of Siena. She became ridiculed and abused because of her belief in the Christian faith. Tradition says that Kateri lead a life of penance and prayer, rising for mass early in the morning and again attending mass later in the day. She refused marriage and gave herself completely to Jesus Christ. She is known as the Lily of the Mohawks because of her virginity. She died during Holy Week in 1680 around the age of 23 or 24. She is said to have uttered the last words of, “Jesus, Mary, I love you.” There were reported miraculous visions of Saint Kateri as she entered heaven, telling her friends, “I have come to say goodbye; I am on my way to Heaven.” When she died, the pox marks on her face were said to have disappeared. I had never heard of little Kateri until after I grew up. One day many years ago, I found the book, Kateri Tekakwitha: Mohawk Maiden, a “Vision” book, in a children’s library. I took it home and promptly fell in love with the story of the little Indian maiden. I was particularly thrilled to run across this sweet Indian saint because I had a godchild who had become very fascinated by all things Indian. Finding out about Saint Kateri gave me an opportunity for catechizing my godchild in a very positive way. I gave my godchild books about Kateri and then I made her a Kateri Tekakwitha doll using a plastic Indian doll that I found at Wal-Mart. I regret that I don’t have a photo of the doll, but I have kept some of the supplies that I used in making her outfit. In more recent years have had the opportunity to visit the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods in Indian River, Michigan. At the time that the new church was built on the beautiful wooded grounds, it was hoped that the church could be named for Kateri Tekakwitha, but she had not yet been canonized. In 2001, a bronze statue of Bl. Kateri was placed on the grounds as a shrine to our First Native American saint. Today, July 14th is the Feast Day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. In my coloring page of Saint Kateri with Father Pierron, I show Fr. Pierron catechizing Katerie and pointing to Heaven, or the “Sky World” as it is called in the Mohawk language. In the background Kateri is being ridiculed by members of her tribe. To print, click on the coloring page below or go to the PDF HERE to print from Google Drive. There is so much more to the story of Saint Kateri. Please read more about her by clicking HERE. and for more extensive information click HERE. For information about the Algonquin tribe, click HERE .