Eighty thousand pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square, in Rome, this Sunday, for the addition of saints to the Catholic roster. Seven men and women were canonized, of which Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to be recognized as a saint by the Catholic church.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was baptized as Catherine Tekakwitha, and she is known as Lily of the Mohawks.
"May the witness of these new saints … speak today to the whole church, and may their intercession strengthen and sustain her in her mission to proclaim the gospel to the whole world," Pope Benedict said.
According to the Guardian
, Native American processions began at down, as thousands gathered to sing and dance to drum beats, in beaded and feathered headdresses and leather-fringed tunics. 80,000 people attended yesterday's ceremony in Rome.
Kateri was born in 1656, to an Iroquois father and an Algonquin mother that had converted to Christianity. She died at 24, after losing her parents and only brother during a smallpox epidemic, as a child. She was later baptized Catholic by Jesuit missionaries, after going to live with her Mohawk uncle. The chickenpox affected her eyesight and left visible scars on her face and body.
She is Canada's national protector, and was honored in English and French by the Pope.
"Saint Kateri, protectress of Canada and the first Native American saint, we entrust you to the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America," he said.
Kateri was acknowledged after 12-year-old Jake Finkbonner, of Native American descent but living with his parents in Washington, was allegedly cured of the rare flesh-eating bacteria after his parents invoked her in their prayers. She is credited for saving the boy, even though the incident happened recently.
Other new saints are 19th-century Franciscan nun Marianne Cope, from Hawaii; 19th-century French Jesuit Jacques Berthieu; Italian Giovanni Battista Piamarta, founder of a religious order in 1900; 19th-century Spanish nun Carmen Salles y Barangueras; and 19th century German woman Anna Schaeffer.