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.

 

 

Comments

2 Comments

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  • Harry P says on: September 14, 2018 at 12:16 am

     

    Kateri, the first Native American Saint, has a huge following in the northeastern U.S. and in Quebec, where she died. It’s not unusual to meet a little girl who is named Kateri or who has chosen her for her Confirmation name.

    “Tekakwitha” means “she who bumps into things.” Smallpox impaired her eyesight, making her clumsy; hence the name. It is said that immediately after Kateri’s death, the marks on her face from smallpox faded away.

    • Ginny says on: September 14, 2018 at 12:50 pm

       

      Thanks Harry, I specially like “she who bumps into things”! I see from her entry online that she is patron of the environment and ecology — very appropriate for these days. Ginny

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