Virginia Barton

14 September 2018: Lily of the Mohawks

14 September 2018


Lilies and Mohawks are unlikely bedfellows, so when I came across this simple quotation I had to know more:

Who will teach me
what is most pleasing to God,
that I may do it?”


These are the words of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th century Native American. The picture of her is by a missionary priest, painted some ten years after her death in the year 1680.

She was known as the Lily despite the ravages done to her face from contracting smallpox at the age of four – a disease that killed her parents and only brother.

Brought up by an uncle and aunt, Kateri spurned marriage and, at the age of 19, instructed by a Jesuit missionary, she became a Christian. She died five years later.


The appeal of this young woman, contained in the three lines above, is for all of us, for all time. I am trying to fix the words in my sorry old head.






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