Several groups of First Nations people from across the northwest are preparing for a trip to the Vatican, as the Pope will canonize the Catholic Church’s first Aboriginal saint on Sunday.
The director at the Kitchitwa Kateri church in Thunder Bay said she prepared her regalia and will be taking an eagle feather with her to Rome.
"I'm already emotional about it, just talking about being in the presence of the Pope and saying that in his own words that Kateri is canonized is the greatest thrill," Grace Esquega said.
Esquega said she's seen evidence of Kateri's healing power in the way people at her church are recovering from emotional wounds.
The Kitchitwa Kateri church in Thunder Bay will hold a special service on Sunday Oct. 21 to mark the canonization of their patron saint.
Who is Kateri Tekakwitha?
Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in Ossernon, now known as Auriesville, NY. But she died while serving the Catholic church in Kahnawake, Que., and has for centuries since been a symbol of hope for aboriginals in Canada.
According to reports, she suffered from smallpox at the age of four and was left scarred and partially blind.
Tekakwitha was ostracized for wanting to devote her life to God. She left her village and made her way to the Catholic Mission of St. Francis-Xavier in Sault-Saint-Louis, Que., where she eventually received her First Holy Communion in 1677.
The devout woman made a vow of virginity and decided to remain devoted to Jesus Christ for her entire life.
She died at the age of 24 after years of self-flagellation and deteriorating health.
People who witnessed her death nearly 300 years ago said her scars disappeared shortly after her passing and her face was left beautiful and intact. She was then occasionally named "Lily of the Mohawks."
She was declared "venerable" by the Catholic Church in 1943 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, before Pope Benedict XVI announced earlier this year the Vatican's plans to canonize her.
To this day, Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be blessed by the church.Source: CBC