More than 2,000 Mohawks and other indigenous from Turtle Island gathered in Rome to witness the canonization today of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who lived and died 300 years ago but is still credited with saving lives to this day. By now most know her story: Afflicted with smallpox as a young girl, Tekakwitha survived and went on to become a devout convert to Catholicism. Her short, painful life ended when she was 24, a victim of what modern-day medicine suspects was tuberculosis.
To those who worship her and adhere to Catholicism, Blessed Kateri and her faith—which got her ostracized from her community—form a bridge between indigenous and Christian beliefs. Indian Country Today Media Network is at the Vatican speaking with the faithful who have journeyed across the ocean. Among them is Elizabeth Taylor, the Mohawk woman pictured above. She said she sees no conflict between her indigenous heritage and her Catholicism.
“Personally, it’s an affirmation of my Christian faith, with no loss to our traditional way of life,” she told Indian Country Today contributor Julianne Jennings.
ICTMN will introduce some of the American Indians and First Nations citizens who traveled thousands of miles to watch Blessed Kateri be canonized. Readers who want to know more can come back for a complete portfolio of images of various Indian celebrants around the country who traveled to the Vatican.