This month, the Diocese of Gallup has launched a blog following the pilgrims from Gallup as they travel to Rome for the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, also known as "Lily of the Mohawks." During a canonization, the Catholic church declares a deceased person to be a saint. Kateri will be the first Native American saint.
Kateri lost her mother to small pox. The disease scarred Kateri's face and impaired her vision. She was raised by two aunts and an uncle.
When she was 20, Kateri was baptized Catholic, much to her tribe's disapproval. She then left her tribe and moved from New York to Canada to join a colony of Christian Native Americans. In the colony, Kateri cared for the sick and took a vow of virginity. Every morning she would stand in front of the chapel's doors until they opened, and she would remain there until after the last mass finished.
Four years after Kateri's baptism, she died of tuberculosis. Her last words are reported to have been "Jesos Konoronkwa," which translates as "Jesus, I love you."
Today there are shrines and centers dedicated to Kateri in both the United States and Canada.
In 1943, the Catholic Church declared her venerable and later, in 1980, she was beatified. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology, which makes her equivalent to St. Francis of Assisi.
The Canonization Mass will take place on Oct. 21 in St. Peter's Square. It will be preceeded by a Prayer Vigil on Oct. 20, which will last approximately two hours. A Mass of Thanksgiving will be held on Oct. 22. Pilgrims are encouraged to bring their traditional native clothing.