St. Kateri: Lily at the Foot of the Cross

After recognition for her second miracle, on October 21, 2012, Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized (1). How did the world react when Kateri is raised to the altars? If contemporary articles on her were any indication, she was hailed as a saint primarily “known for” teaching children and caring for the sick, and that she had a streak of feminism in her (2). You might have also heard some pagans still trying to claim her for her own like in this piece by the New York Times:

“At a time when natives are still treated like third-class citizens, it’s very impressive that the Vatican and the Catholic Church is finally recognizing her,’ said Pat Whyland, 67, a Mohawk from Syracuse, who offered a prayer to Kateri, as well as to the water, wind and sun, at the start of a small powwow held at her shrine in Fonda in early July. ‘Not everyone knows about her,’ she added, ‘but once you become familiar with her, you become very attached to her and her story.’”(3)

Obviously Ms. Pat Whyland does not know her story or else she would not be worshiping the elements of the earth and she would follow her example and convert to Christianity even during persecutions by pagan earth worshipers. For this woman and those like here, it is more important that she was an American Indian than that she was a Christian, which misses the whole point of her canonization.

“I don’t look at it like she gave up her native beliefs,” he said as he got a Mohawk Bear Clan tattoo in a tent at the powwow. “She added to her faith.” said Toby Whyland-Rich, 39 (4).

In case Ms. Whyland in unfamiliar with the native beliefs she references, the most solemn rituals of the Mohawks involved slowly burning humans alive to please their war god, Aireskoi, before they went into battle (5). Are these the American Indian practices we are supposed to extol?

Unfortunately, even in the Catholic Church there isn’t much better reverence for Saint Kateri. Some people seem only to be happy about her canonization because she was an American Indian, not because of her sanctity. Not to mention the endless “sacred” artwork of her that makes her look like a watered down version of Disney’s Pocahontas.

So the world would have you believe that our beloved Kateri Takakwitha was a semi-pagan feminist who liked helping children and sick people and kind of looked like Pocahontas. While it does not accurately describe our saint, it does accurately describe a lot of modern celebrities (minus the Pocahontas bit).

They are hiding the sanctity of Saint Kateri because they hate the fact that she left the darkness of paganism, heroically endured a persecution, and applied brutal penance and mortification to her body; in other words, she embraced the Cross of Jesus Christ, the Cross which stands against the world.

We ought not wish St. Kateri Tekakwitha to be remembered as some nature loving hippy like St Francis of Assisi is made out to be, but as the brutal penitent who despised the world and gave up everything to follow Jesus Christ. Saint Kateri despised paganism and prayed for the conversion of her people, she had nothing in common with feminists as her obedience and docility to the direction of her priests reveals, and she did not look like Pocahontas.

(1) “Eleven-year-old Boy’s Survival of Flesh-eating Bacteria Declared a Miracle by Pope as American Indian Woman Credited with Saving Him Is Approved for Sainthood.” Mail Online. N.p., 21 Dec. 2011. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.

(2) CROWLEY, CATHLEEN F. “Kateri Gets Miracle She Needed.” Times Union. N.p., 19 Dec. 2011. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.

(3) Ottoman, Sharron. “Complx Emotions over First American Indian Saint” New York Times 24, July, 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2012.

(4) Ibid.(5)Walworth, Ellen H. The Life and times of Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks, 1656-1680. Buffalo: P. Paul, 1891. Print.

Noah Moerbeek, “St. Kateri: Lily at the Foot of the Cross,” Unam Sanctam Catholicam, October 6, 2012. Available online at