Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kateri Tekakwitha

I am getting ready for a prayer and meditation kind of Art Show at the Church I work at and attend. See info about it in a previous post - Art as Prayer.

In looking at the pieces I'll be using for the art show (on August 17th), I have chosen the "Redeemed" assemblage as one piece, and also made it a tribute to a blessed saint - Kateri Tekakwitha.

A God-cidence is an event or circumstance that shows a relationship to God's presence involved in various ways. The art piece I titled, "Redeemed", was one of those "God-cidences.
After I had already created most of this piece (which I would later change and add a few things to - check out my blog post from a year ago here), I came across an icon catalog of various saints. One of the images of saints that caught my eye was Kateri Tekakwitha. The doll's image and the items I had used seemed to fit the story of Kateri so well that I felt my assemblage had a real connection to this Christian saint. And from some pictures I've found in doing more research on Kateri, the resemblance to her is pretty awesome too!

Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), was the daughter of a Mohawk chief, and a Roman Catholic Algonquian. When Kateri was four she caught smallpox and was left with poor eyesight, and unsightly scars on her face and took the lives of her brother and parents. She was adopted by her uncle, a chief of the Turtle Clan. As the adopted daughter of the chief, many young men sought her hand in marriage, in spite of her disfigured face. She realized that this was only for political purposes and was disgusted by the idea of a loveless marriage. During this time she took an interest in Christianity, before her mother died, she had given her a rosary, which was taken away by her uncle and her conversion discouraged. But, at the age of 20, Tekakwitha was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1676. At her baptism, she took the name Kateri, a Mohawk pronunciation of the French name Catherine, after Catherine of Siena. Tekakwitha literally means "she moves things."

Members of the tribe often chastised her, which she took as a testament to her faith. Because she was persecuted by her Native American kin, which included threats to her life, she fled to an established community of Native American Christians in Kahnawake, Quebec, where she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance, and care for the sick and aged. In 1679, she took a vow of chastity. A year later, on April 17, 1680, Kateri died at the age of 24. Her last words are said to have been "Jesus, I love You!"

Kateri is called "The Lily of the Mohawks," the "Mohawk Maiden," the "Pure and Tender Lily," the "Flower among True Men," the "Lily of Purity" and "The New Star of the New World." Her tribal neighbors called her "the fairest flower that ever bloomed among the redmen."

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