With the passing of Halloween and the coming of All Saints Day on November 1st, mid-autumn is officially here, and a lovely time of year to reflect upon the life of this remarkable young woman. Born in a 17th century Iroquois village along the Mohawk River in what is now Upstate New York, Kateri Tekakwitha is venerated today as North America’s first Native American saint.
Orphaned as a little girl, nearly blind from a bout of smallpox, and devoted to her Catholic faith, Kateri wanted to escape the restrictive life her aunts had planned for her. She fled by canoe down the Mohawk River, protected by two Catholic Iroquois young men. They managed to hide along the shore from Kateri’s angry uncles, and made their way to a spot not far from the Hudson, near Albany. There they left the canoe and walked the entire way to the Jesuit missionary settlement near Montreal in present-day Quebec.
Camping along the way, it took these three young people two months to reach the village on the southern bank of the St. Lawrence River. There, Kateri lived a life of complete service to others, teaching the children, praying, and caring for the sick and elderly. She died at the age of 24 and is buried nearby.
The children’s chapter book pictured above is an account of the life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Just 28 pages long, divided into 6 chapters, it is suitable for children ages 4 and up. The story moves from Kateri’s birth through the major events of her short, gentle life. It also relates, in simple terms, the history of her slow but steady journey through the traditional channels of the Catholic Church to her canonization in October, 2012.
The book is available at Amazon.com. Just type in my full name, Catherine Becker Reynolds, and it should come right up. The Kindle edition is just $.99, and the paperback is $5.40.
You may find Kateri’s story fascinating, too, even if you are not Catholic and do not believe in saints. Walking from the Mohawk River to the banks of the St. Lawrence? Whoa, it’s hilly! The Adirondack Mountains are in the way, and nights are freezing up there, even in summer!
Kidding aside, it’s hard not to be inspired by this resourceful young woman, who was brave as the strongest of us; kind and patient as the best of us; constant in purpose as the Morning Star; and true to herself and her life’s path until the end. We can all learn something from her.