Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656. Kateri's father was a Mohawk warrior chief and her mother was a Catholic Native American who was captured by the Mohawks and given as a wife to the chief. When Kateri was four years old small pox swept through the village killing her parents and leaving Kateri disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle who succeeded her father as chief.
Facing the opposition of he uncle, Kateri converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 20. Although she suffered greatly for her Faith, facing opposition from her uncle and her tribe, she remained firm. To allow herself to grow in her faith Kateri went to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged.
Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus Crucified. She died on April 7, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. She is known as the "Lily of the Mohawks". Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada. The Catholic Church declared Kateri venerable in 1943 and she was beatified in 1980. Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be declared Blessed. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology.