|Sr Kateri Marie Benedicta of the Cross, SOLT, at St Peter's in Rome for the canonization of St Kateri Tekakwitha with two other sisters named after the Saint|
On October 11, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized seven new saints for the Catholic Church. I was blessed to be able to attend the canonization of my patron saint, St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
Upon arriving in Rome I met pilgrims from all over the world who have a love and devotion to St. Kateri. It was amazing to see how this young saint drew all these people to Rome. There was a mixture of bishops, priests, sisters, and Native Americans who traveled to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
St. Kateri was born in 1656 in what is present day New York state. Her mother was an Algonquin Christian who was captured by the Mohawks and forced to marry the Mohawk Chief. They had two children together, and Kateri was the eldest.
When she was four years old, her family died from small pox, after which she was raised by her uncle. When Kateri was twenty years old she was baptized in the Catholic faith. She had a natural desire for prayer and sacrifice. After her baptism, she yearned to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.
She knew that her uncle would never let her and, in order to practice her faith without persecution, she knew she would have to escape to one of the Jesuit Missions in Canada. A priest and missionary helped her escape and she never returned to her family. She found a home at the mission and was able to attend daily Mass. Shortly after her arrival she began preparing to receive the Sacraments. Her harsh penance and her deep prayer life was evident to all who knew her.
While in Rome, not only was my devotion to St. Kateri deepened but also a profound friendship with this beautiful saint. I could see how I did not choose the name Kateri, but she chose me.
Waiting to go through security to get into St. Peter’s square on the day of the canonization I was in line with two other Sr. Kateri’s from different religious communities. The two religious sisters had special seating for the Mass and they were hopeful that security would let me sit with them. I was praying the Memorare and asking Our Lady to make this happen.
Well, when we finally were able to get into St. Peter’s, just as the Mass for the canonization was about to start, security did not even ask for our tickets. They just escorted the three of us to our seats. There were only three seats left and they were right next to each other. Right at that moment I looked up and in front of me was the banner of St. Kateri hanging in the front of St. Peter’s Basilica. I knew she wanted me there at her canonization and that her life story was going to be a part of mine in a more profound way.
At that moment I knew that God planned for me to be there in the Eternal City celebrating the life of my spiritual friend and patron, and that He planned this well before I even asked for her religious name. St. Kateri’s inspirational life is for everyone to reflect upon and imitate. As I am serving on the Turtle Mountain Reservation I have brought back a deeper faith and trust in Our Lord. I know that our new saint is pouring graces upon our first nation people. May she continue to intercede for them.