WASHINGTON—Next week,Pope Benedict XVI will canonize seven saints including two Americans: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint, and Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, who spent the last 30 years of her life ministering to the sick on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.
The canonization Mass will take place at the Vatican October 21.
“Kateri’s life is a witness not only to the cost of discipleship – she bore a great deal of suffering for her faith among her own people – but also to its fruitfulness,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia, chairman of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Native American Affairs. “She reminds us that Jesus came for all people in every age, but especially for the lowly, whom God loves in a special way.”
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, of Algonquin and Mohawk descent, is also known as the “Lily of the Mohawks.” She was born in 1656, became an orphan as a child and was raised by her uncle, the chief of the Mohawk village. A smallpox epidemic left her eyesight impaired and her face scarred for life. Despite the anger of her relatives, Kateri was drawn to the faith by the teachings of missionary priests. She ran away to Montreal, Canada, where she practiced her faith with freedom.
Blessed Marianne Cope joined the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York, in 1862.She became a leader in the field of healthcare, often caring for those considered “outcasts,” which then led her to volunteer in the Hawaiian island of Molokai where she took care of the lepers and the poor.