Kateri

Kateri Tekakwitha portraitAs you might have seen in all the local coverage, Kateri Tekakwitha -- a Native American woman born near Amsterdam, New York in 1656 (there's now a shrine at the site) -- was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church Sunday. She's the first Native American to be recognized as a saint by the church. Thousands of people were at the shrine in Auriesville to celebrate.

Sainthood is a big deal for Catholics. Saints are believed to have led lives of great faith, often in difficult circumstances. (In Kateri's case: converting to Catholicism, taking a vow of chastity, and becoming a paragon of faith after being left an orphan by smallpox and living through turbulent times.) And Catholics believe that God continues to act through these people after their deaths. (In Kateri's case: a boy in Washington State is said to have been cured of a flesh-eating infection after prayer to her.)

Local author Jack Casey was in Rome for the canonization of Kateri and he's written a series of posts about the experience on his blog. A book by Casey -- Kateri -- Lily of the Mohawks -- was recently published by Staff Picks Press, the imprint run by the Book House. It sounds like an overview of Kateri's story -- or, at least, a version of it.

Not surprisingly, the canonization of Kateri has reportedly prompted a range of reactions among Native Americans. From an interesting recent article by Renée K. Gadoua in the Syracuse Post-Standard:

"We've been waiting a long time for this," [Sister Kateri Mitchell, born on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation] said of the canonization at the Vatican on Sunday. "It's a great validation."
Doug George-Kanentiio, also a Mohawk from St. Regis, was brought up Catholic, even serving as an altar boy. But he left the church at 14 when he began to practice longhouse traditions.
"I had a lot of anger at the church at the things they had done to the Native people and the world and the moral compromises they made," he said.
He, too, will travel to Rome for the canonization.
"It took me a while to begin to adopt a different approach to this, not one based on history, but compassion for a young woman who was determined she was going to emulate the suffering of Jesus Christ," George-Kanentiio said. "That passion is remarkable."
Alicia Cook grew up on the Onondaga Nation, married a Mohawk and now lives at St. Regis, also known as Akwesasne. She has always practiced longhouse religion and has no interest in Kateri's story.
"The church has been telling us for years we're heathens," Cook said. "The white man has hurt us enough. They intruded on our land here."

And here's another perspective, from a site called American Indians in Children's Literature, lamenting the stereotypes that have popped up in coverage of Kateri.

portrait by Father Claude Chauchetière, S.J., ca 1696 via Wikipedia

Comments

A great meditation on Kateri Tekakwitha (although not one that the Holy See would endorse) can be found in Leonard Cohen's great novel, "Beautiful Losers".

Much as I'd like to applaud this on the grounds of cultural diversity, I can't. You lose me at the requirement for two "documented" miracles to gain sainthood, no matter how exemplary and holy the life..

Please.
See Carl Strock's great article (Schenectady Gazette - 12/22/11) on what actually happened concerning this 'miracle'. Like most of the fantasy of religion, it falls quite apart when the facts are revealed.

C.

I couldn't find the Carl Strock article, but I'm guessing he mentioned the miracle of the boy who was saved by divine intercession plus a few dozen surgeries. I'm always amazed when I read these articles that they don't catch the irony of a young woman who was blinded and scarred by smallpox being admired for leading an exemplary, chaste life, or how they bring up the antipathy held against Jesuit missionaries when it was they who brought the smallpox in the first place!

Still, it's bringing some attention and tourism to the area, so I'm not complaining.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show: Chris Lamberth

The Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show series is bringing Chris Lamberth back to Proctors August 25. Tickets are $15 ahead / $20 at the... (more)

Forest walk for mushrooms, and a few other things do with the Rensselaer Land Trust

This could be interesting: The Rensselaer Land Trust has a mushroom walk led by mycologist Sue Van Hook lined up for August 25. Blurbage: Sue... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

Gather your summer weekend fun while you can. This weekend is overflowing with music, summer theater festivals, fair food, Ferris wheels and more. Here's our... (more)

Delaware Ave road diet in Bethlehem

The town of Bethlehem is moving toward a road diet/traffic calming for Delaware Ave -- and it's interesting to watch the conversation in the town... (more)

Colson Whitehead is the next New York State Author, Alicia Ostriker the next State Poet

The next New York State Author will be Colson Whitehead, and the next State Poet will be Alicia Ostriker. Their selection was announced this week... (more)

Recent Comments

Who would have thought that the way to finally get Exit 3 made after 30+ years was to just name it 'Exit 4 II: The Other Exit 4'.

Here's the proposed design for the Albany Skyway

...has 17 comments, most recently from Paul

Delaware Ave road diet in Bethlehem

...has 1 comment, most recently from Rob

Morning Blend for Aug 15

...has 4 comments, most recently from John B.

The Albany airport's getting terminal upgrades, a new parking garage, and a new connector road from Exit 4

...has 18 comments, most recently from Mike

Debbie's Kitchen is returning (with Debbie)

...has 7 comments, most recently from MM