Born in 1657, she was the daughter of an Algonquin mother who was a convert as well, and a Mohawk chief. At a young age small pox took most of her family, and left her with a poor eyesight and a scarred face which is often represented in her iconography. In 1676 she converted and took the baptismal name of Catherine (Kateri) in honor of St. Catherine of Seina, and in the following year joined a religious community called the Holy Family.
Kateri Tekakwitha is known for living a virtuous life, helping the sick and elderly, teaching children and taking the vow of perpetual virginity. Kateri is the patron of ecology, people in exile, loss of parents, people ridiculed for their piety and Native Americans. She is often depicted with a turtle (tribe/clan), a lily, and a rosary.
Kateri died on April 17th, in the year 1680, at the age of 24 from an illness. The last words claimed she spoke were “Jesos Konoronkwa“, which is translated: “Jesus I Love You”.
Blessed Tekakwitha will be canonized on October 21, 2012.