Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement recognizing the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha:
Today in Vatican City, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was declared a Saint by Pope Benedict XVI, making her North America's first Aboriginal Saint.
Saint Kateri - also known as 'Lily of the Mohawks' - was bestowed the highest honour of the Catholic Church in recognition of her remarkable virtue and determination, and her unwavering devotion to God.
Born in 1656 in what is now New York State, Saint Kateri was persecuted for the faith she held so tenaciously and relocated to a Christian Mohawk village in what is now Kahnawake, Quebec, where she perished at the tender age of 24.
Throughout her short life, Saint Kateri never abandoned her faith. She taught prayers to children, cared for the sick and the elderly, and often attended mass both at sunrise and sunset.
Today, a number of shrines in both Canada and the U.S. are dedicated to Saint Kateri, including the site of her burial at the St. Francis Xavier Mission in Kahnawake, Quebec.
The canonization of Saint Kateri is a great honour and joyous occasion for the many North Americans and Aboriginal peoples who cherish her witness of faith and strength of character. The Government of Canada stands with those who are celebrating her life on this day in Canada, the United States and throughout the world."