I was very happy to hear that Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict on Sunday at the Vatican. He officially elevated Kateri to sainthood along with seven other extraordinary human beings. Saints are the super heroes of our faith and they have greatly inspired me on my spiritual journey. Pope Benedict spoke in both English and French, "May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are......St. Kateri, protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust you to the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America!"
I have a beautiful collector plate hanging in my living room of Kateri. It shows an attractive Indian woman holding a lamb, I assume a symbol of her love for Jesus, the Lamb of God. The image comes from the original oil painting by Gregory Perillo. I have many images of American Indians in my living room, since I've always had an affinity for Indians, though I'm not sure why. I think it has to do with their love and respect for nature. I love the beauty of nature and find peace being in the country or at the shore. Also, I am a longtime supporter of St. Joseph's Indian School which supports Lakota Sioux children in Chamberlain, South Dakota. I'm well aware of the challenges that Indian children face.
I hope Kateri will pray for them from her exalted place in Heaven.
Kateri suffered much in her life. She survived smallpox and was orphaned as a child. She was drawn to Catholicism and to Jesus. She found comfort in her faith and love of God. There were supernatural appearances of Kateri after her death. The supernatural in one form of another, is usually woven into the lives of saints as they are close friends of God. Apparently, according to eyewitness reports, immediately upon her death, her face changed and became more beautiful. A priest named Cholenec wrote, "This face, so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed about a quarter of an hour after her death, and became in a moment so beautiful and so white that I observed it immediately." Kateri is said to have "appeared before three individuals in the weeks after her death."
Father Chauchetiere "reported seeing Kateri at her grave; he said she appeared in 'baroque splendor' for two hours he gazed upon her......her face lifted toward heaven as if in ecstasy."