Monday, October 22, 2012

Sainte-Kateri


I was inclined to be more creeped out than moved by this weekend's lavish canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the young Mohawk woman who died in a Jesuit-led mission community outside Montreal in 1680. Alienated from much of her nation and much given to corporal mortification, she has always seemed a tragic figure rather than a role model, and copping a sainthood from Pope Benedict  seems like, I dunno, accepting an honorary degree from a shady online college.

But one could not help but be impressed by the substantial number of Mohawk and other First Nations people for whom this was important and affirming, who said, "This shows we can be respected too."

A reminder: for historians, the story on this is Allan Greer's Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits.  As one reviewer said, "In rescuing the "lily of the Mohawks" from her hagiographers, Allan Greer has produced an utterly fascinating volume."  Greer mentions that the Jesuit-driven cult of Kateri was such that one could argue she was the most famous Canadian who ever lived.  I saw no mention of Allan's work in the media coverage of the canonization events.

Update:  Brian Busby reminds me that Leonard Cohen introduced a lot of people to Kateri Tekakwitha too!