Gentle Reader, I am on vacation.  Yes, here in the wilds of Cohasset, Massachusetts, a town on the "South Shore" (pronounced "South Shaw") of Boston, at a large, rambling house owned by the Jesuit Community of Boston College, along with many other young and young(ish) Jesuits.  (The bluff on which the Jesuit house sits is one from which Native Americans shot arrows at the incoming ships of Captain John Smith.)  On Friday we make our way up to the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse for the annual vow Mass, where the novices will pronounce their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  Why am I telling you this?  Because of the connection to the following piece of good news, which I saw online this morning after I punched in the word "Vatican" under Google News: There is a report of a miracle for Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the Native American convert to Catholicism known as the "Lily of the Mohawks." 

For the last few years, en route to Syracuse a few of us have stopped to pray at the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, which is also the birthplace of Kateri.  It is always a deeply moving trip, particularly the visit to the ravine where St. Rene Goupil, one of the North American martyrs was killed, and where St. Isaac Jogues searched for his body--which was never found.  As you descend into the ravine you read excerpts from the letters of Fr. Jogues home to his French Jesuit superiors, which describe his fruitless search for his friend, near the site of Kateri's birth.  The confluence of the lives of those three saints only adds to the holiness of the place. 

But back to the good news: Today this story appeared on the Canada.com site under the title Mohawk Woman Could be Proclaimed Saint by Vatican

"More than 320 years after her death, a Mohawk woman is on the cusp of canonization as the Vatican reviews newly collected evidence of a miracle that could place her among the saints.  Just what the recent miracle is that's been attributed to the intercession or divine intervention of Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the Lily of the Mohawks, remains a closely guarded secret.  Evidence of the miracle -- which took two years to compile -- was sent to Rome last month in a diplomatic pouch through the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C., said Monsignor Paul Lenz, the church official who was charged with finding a miracle that could qualify Kateri for sainthood. The matter now rests with the Vatican's Secretariat for Beatification and Canonization, which will issue a recommendation to the Pope, who will make a final decision on Kateri's beatification, said Lenz. 'Only God knows' how long the process could take, Lenz said this week in an interview with Canwest News Service."

Kateri is astonishing.  (A good summary of her life is at the Catholic Encyclopedia.)  What must it have meant for her to become a Christian in the midst of a culture that often considered the Christian missionaries not simply a threat, not simply "sorcerers," but the bringers of death and disease?  And unlike her French Jesuit friends, Kateri did not grow up in a thoroughly Christian culture, and so she had no warm childhood memories of happy times in a local parish church upon which to draw in difficult times, nor did she have a deep knowledge of Scripture, tradition and the lives of the saints to support her in the midst of persecution, as did Isaac Jogues, Rene Goupil, Jean de Brebeuf and the others.  Her heroism was just as great as that of the Jesuit martyrs. 

Blessed Kateri, pray for us.

Comments

Anonymous | 8/17/2009 - 8:35am
A few years ago, we produced a short video on Kateri and the Jesuit martyrs, and you can see it at http://vimeo.com/3471229  Fr. John Paret, SJ, was our wonderful guide.
Recently I toured the new exhibit on the Hudson River and the founding of New Amsterdam at the Museum of the City of the New York and wondered why there was no mention of St.Isaac Jogues and his famous escape to the city. 
The story has all the makings of a first class drama.
Anonymous | 8/15/2009 - 1:25pm
My understanding is that, outside of a document of unknown provenance first uncovered at a suspiciously opportune moment, there is no primary source which mentions Juan Diego until more than a century after his death.  For Kateri Tekakwitha, I'm unaware of any such gap, though I also don't know what, if any documents from her catechist, Pere Jacques de Lamberville, remain.  Is there anyone reading this who does know?   Certainty is always difficult in such circumstances.  Is there any clear cut evidence that Socrates lived?  What evidence would be sufficient?
Anonymous | 8/15/2009 - 5:51am
This is, indeed, good news, not only for Blessed Kateri, but also for all those who probably "should" be canonized.  Those who ministered to Native Americans and those Native Americans themselves.
Anonymous | 8/14/2009 - 3:45pm
I remember reading an article once saying that the evidence is not clear cut that Kateri even existed. Has anyone else read that? Similarly, Juan Diego.
Anonymous | 8/13/2009 - 5:40pm
This is one of my favorite Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha prayers:
O Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind, and whose breathegives life to the entire world....Hear me!  I am small and weak!  I need your strength and wisdom!
I seek strength, not to be greater than my sister or brother, but to fight my greatest enemy...myself.
Make me always ready to come to you with hands cleansed and eyes straight, so that when life fades like the evening sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.  Amen.
Blessed Kateri , pray for us.
Anonymous | 8/13/2009 - 4:06pm
We will be glad to welcome all to Syracuse and invite you to come to the most beautiful Native American chapel at St. Lucy's Church which is the home of the Kateri Tekakwitha Committee. The history of this committee and the community here is most impressive and a special parish liturgy is celebrated twice annually at whhich Kateri is particularly celebrated. In the fall, it is accompnied by a wonderful dinner for the whole parish as well and is attended by many others.
While I think that the Vatican "two miracle norm" for sainthood is an artifact that quantifies a mystery and should be discarded, I join all in hoping that her holiness be universally recognized with the title "Saint."
Few will celebrate more than this communty here when that happens!
 
Anonymous | 8/13/2009 - 1:14pm
I hope it finally happens!