A Lily Among Thorns: St. Kateri Tekakwitha
February 10, 2012 9:52 PM Subscribe
Later this year, the Vatican will canonize Káteri Tekahkwí:the, a/k/a Catherine Tekakwitha, a/k/a "Lily of the Mohawks."
Born in 1656 to a Mohawk father and Algonquin mother, some are celebrating the canonization of the first North American indigenous saint.
For others, the news is bittersweet, inciting mixed reactions derived from complex emotions
, especially to those of American and Canadian Native ancestry, for whom the news represents a painful reminder of the dark history of European colonization of North America.
The compelling survival story of Tekakwitha (or "the Clumsy One") has long been cherished as a religious conversion story by non-Natives of European descent, particularly Catholics, who claimed her as one of their own and held her out to the world as a model of piety and Christian values. In her classic 1890 biography of Kateri, The Life and Times of Kateri Tekakwitha, The Lily of the Mohawks, 1656-1680
, Ellen Walworth documents Kateri's ascetic lifestyle - which included self-flagellation, frequent fasting and even sleeping on a bed of thorns - in vivid detail. Describing her interest in Tekakwitha as sparked by "the thought of a mere Indian girl reared in the forest among barbarians," Walworth's spin on Kateri's tragic life seems to echo the pro-Indian assimilation line which was typical of the Assimilation era of federal Indian policy
. However, in more recent years, some authors have attempted to reclaim her story by digging deeper into her dark history from more diverse secular and non-secular perspectives. For example, Mohawk author and biographer Darren Bonaparte argues for painting a more complex portrait of a future saint which more fully incorporates and appreciates her Mohawk roots.
posted by Dr. Zira (39 comments total)
33 users marked this as a favorite
« Older Why not avoid the commercial Hallmark Holiday trap... | Apparently Moby has started a ... Newer »