Vatican Canonizes 1st Native American Saint

Benedict seeks to honor missionaries from regions where church is lagging
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2012 6:03 AM CDT
Native Indians hold an image of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first American Indian to achieve sainthood, as they wait for a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square, Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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(Newser) – The Vatican canonized seven new saints today, adding to its roster from parts of the globe where the Catholic church is falling behind. America claimed two of those seven spots, reports the Star-Telegram, notably including the first Native American saint, the so-called "Lily of the Mohawks," Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17-century missionary born in what is today Upstate New York. "May the witness of these new saints speak today to the whole church, and may their intercession strengthen and sustain her in her mission to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world," said Pope Benedict in his address in St. Peter's Square.

The second American was Marianne Cope, a missionary from the same area who cared for leprosy patients in Hawaii two centuries after Tekakwitha lived, reports the AP. But the crowd favorite appeared to be the Philippines' second saint, Pedro Calungsod, a 17th-century teen martyr. "It's so nice to see God showing all the flavors of the world," said one Native American in attendance. (Read more Native Americans stories.)

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