(Vatican Radio) The canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha marks the first time a Native
North American has been raised to the altars. Known as the “Lily of the Mohawks”,
Kateri was born in what is now New York. She moved to Quebec shortly after her baptism.
Pilgrims from both Canada and the United States have come to Rome to attend her canonization.
Canada’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Anne Leahy, is part of a high-level Canadian
government delegation to the canonization. She spoke with Vatican Radio about Kateri’s
significance today. “Kateri Tekakwitha being recognised by the Catholic Church is
of importance not only to First Nations peoples or to Catholics, because the mere
fact of being recognised as such means that she is really put up as a model for the
universal Church, but as a model, in fact, by her life, by her beliefs, by her steadfastness—these
are qualities for all individuals, and not only those associated with her immediate
background or religion.”
As the first native North American saint, Ambassador
Leahy says St. Kateri’s life embodies the history of the encounter of the Catholic
missionaries and the First Nations peoples. Ambassador Leahy says “Her life embodies,
in many ways, the convergence of the values that her people had, in terms of their
spirituality, a certain convergence with the Catholic Faith that the Jesuits brought.”
Ambassador Leahy notes that Saint Kateri was proposed by Bd. John Paul II
as a model for young people at World Youth Day in Toronto in 2012. And, because the
First Nations peoples are so closely associated with love of creation and of the environment,
Kateri is also seen as a patron of the environment and of ecology. That, she says,
“still makes [Kateri] quite modern” and relevant in today’s world.
to the full interview of Christopher Wells with Canadian Ambassador Anne Leahy: