The Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Community

84 Exeter Road
Exeter, Rhode Island 02822

Monsignor Gerard O. Sabourin, Pastor

Author's Comment:

If you visit my website dedicated to my cousin Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, you will find copies of many paintings of this Native American saint.

However, the above recent acquisition, sent to me by Richard Aubrey Payne, and with the artist's permission to use in my site, is the most beautiful and the closest portrayal of who, in my opinion, is the real Tekakwitha.

Kateri is so serene, deep in thoughtful meditation, clutching Rosary Beads with the shining cross - a series of prayers taught by her mother and then by the Black Robes. Study the background to notice the Holy Spirit, descending from above and surrounded by a blazing light, He who enlightened her throughout her life - about whom her mother, Wahwahsekona, Fleur-de-la-Prairie or Prairie Flower, taught her at a very early age. One of the wings of the Dove is connecting to Jesus on the Cross - whom Tekakwitha carried with her, believing that the Son of God died for her and for her sins (she was innocence itself).

Tekakwitha is surrounded by the forest - the French word "sauvage", taken from the latin, meant "people of the forest". Birch bark was undoubtedly used for the canoe that rescued her from her Mohawk tormentors and finally brought her to the "praying village" in New France - the country of her Algonquin mother.

At her feet one can see sweetgrass, the fragrance in a smudging by which our prayers are purified and lifted to the Great Spirit. And there are lilies, the symbol of her paternal Mohawk heritage and as a flower of her maternal Algonquin ancestry. In the background are pine trees, among which there are certainly "cedar", also used in the smudging purification.

The watercolors are subdued like her personality and her surroundings, colors of the forest and its people, with the blazing white light just beyond her head teaching her about the Great Spirit and His enlightment.

It is appropriate that I feature this painting in this issue of our magazine (Késsinnimek-Roots-Racines), because April is the month in which two important events took place in the life of my cousin Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.

She was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1676.
She died on Wednesday of Holy Week, April 17, 1680.

The Catholic Church in Canada celebrates Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha's holy day on April 17, the day of her death.
In the United States, it is celebrated on July 14.

Norm Léveillée, Ed.

A Litany to My Cousin

Copyright © 2010 Norm Léveillée
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