Monday, October 22, 2012

Home-Grown Saint

When we lived in Northern Ontario I would go from time to time to the Anishnabe Spiritual Retreat Centre near Espanola. There were several small retreat cabins named after First Nations spiritual examplars, including Kateri Tekakwitha, who I discovered was a Mohawk woman who lived in the 17th century. I love the Robert Lenz icon above, which shows her holding turtle island, the aboriginal symbol of the earth.

Well, as of yesterday Kateri Tekakwitha is the first aboriginal saint from North America in the Roman Catholic church. While I have my issues with aspects of canonization, I appreciate that a First Nations person who was a devout Christian is being recognized by the Roman Catholic church. She was born in the United States but spent a good part of her life in Canada and was eventurally buried at Kahnawake in Quebec.

It seems a bit bizarre that both countries are squabbling over her as their saint. Let the poor woman rest in peace. It also seems incongruous that she was canonized in a big ceremony in St. Peter's square in Rome, but perhaps that could be said of the majority of the saints whose lives were humble. Many of the folk in attendance were aboriginal pilgrims from Canada.

I was surprised to encounter her again outside St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Have any of you been aware of, or followed this story? Does it matter to you that we now have an aboriginal saint?

Have you checked out Groundling lately? Owls!


Stacey said...

I read about the canonization and must admit I felt a little thrill of pride that she was Mohawk, as I am part Mohawk as well. But this thrill comes only with mention of the word Mohawk, and not as it pertains to the subject at hand. Anytime a woman or an Aboriginal person of Canada is recognized for their part in history, I am pleased, because our chronicling of our stories does not always reflect their vital contributions. I must admit however, that any pleasure is clouded by the feeling that this is a "marketing" manoeuvre to "throw a bone" to the groups that have been ignored for so long in the past. I can't help but be a cynic.

David Mundy said...

I suppose we just receive the gift despite the politics and religion (so often a lethal mix) swirling around. Thanks Stacey.