By Allan Greer
On October 21, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Saint Kateri Tekakwitha because the first local North American saint. Mohawk Saint is a piece of historical past that situates her outstanding lifestyles in its 17th century environment, a time of wars, epidemics, and cultural modifications for the Indian peoples of the northeast. The daughter of a Algonquin mom and an Iroquois father, Catherine/Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) has develop into recognized over the centuries as a Catholic convert so holy that, shortly upon her loss of life, she grew to become the thing of a cult. this day she is respected as a buyer saint via local american citizens and the patroness of ecology and the surroundings via Catholics extra regularly, the 1st local North American proposed for sainthood.
Tekakwitha was once born at a time of cataclysmic swap, as local americans of the northeast skilled the consequences of ecu touch and colonization. A convert to Catholicism within the 1670s, she launched into a bodily and mentally grueling software of self-denial, aiming to trap the religious energy of the rookies from around the sea. Her tale intersects with that of Claude Chauchetière, a French Jesuit of mystical trends who got here to the USA hoping to rescue savages from sin and paganism. however it used to be Claude himself who wanted support to stand down his personal melancholy. He grew to become confident that Tekakwitha used to be a real saint and that conviction gave desiring to his lifestyles. although she lived till simply 24, Tekakwitha's serious penances and bright visions have been so suggested that Chauchetière wrote an elegiac hagiography presently after her death.
With this richly crafted examine, Allan Greer has written a twin biography of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and Chauchetière, unpacking their cultures in local the US and in France. He examines the missionary and conversion actions of the Jesuits in Canada, and explains the Indian non secular practices that interweave with converts' Catholic practices. He additionally relates how Tekakwitha's legend unfold in the course of the hagiographies and to components of the us, Canada, Europe, and Mexico within the centuries due to the fact that her loss of life. The ebook additionally explores problems with physique and soul, disease and therapeutic, sexuality and celibacy, as printed within the lives of a guy and a girl, from profoundly varied worlds, who met centuries in the past within the distant Mohawk village of Kahnawake.
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Additional info for Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits
But, then, Europeans in America were also transformed through contact with native societies. Our understanding of these processes is badly skewed if we think in terms of a zero-sum “contest of cultures,” with Indian civilization falling victim to a triumphant EuroAmerican culture. 13 With a renewed conceptual apparatus of this sort, we can hope to come to terms with the continuity of Mohawk and Iroquois culture through all the shocks and ruptures of the seventeenth and subsequent centuries and down to the present day.
The saint was the living Christian’s friend in heaven, a reassuring human visage to the “towering order of the universe,” and an intercessor who could help secure favors from an otherwise remote God. 48 How could Claude verify his sense that Catherine was one of the select few who had never truly died, even though their bodies had perished? Certainty would only come after the passage of years, but his faith was sustained initially by a series of mysterious visitations in which Catherine appeared to him and to others.
37 The list of casualties therefore included a handful of the rich as well as hordes of the poor. Many years later, at the age of fifty, Claude Chauchetière recalled his feelings at the time of his father’s death in a long letter to his brother. The letter told the story of his life; it was a confession or spiritual autobiography of the sort that religious people of the time often wrote as testimony to the BEAUTIFUL DEATH 15 workings of Providence in their own lives. Whereas his biography of Catherine, true to Iroquoian patterns of kinship, focuses on her mother’s death and neglects her father, his account of his own childhood centers on his father’s death, making no mention of his mother.