|Nuns held images of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to achieve sainthood|
Pope Benedict XVI today canonized 7 saints, including the first Native American and a 19th-century nun who tended to lepers on Hawaii.
Cheers rose from the crowd when the pope named Kateri Tekewitha, known as “Lily of the Mohawks” and beloved by Native Americans, and Sister Marianne Cope, a German-born nun who was raised in Utica, New York before moving to Hawaii.
The canonization Mass comes amid a meeting of bishops aimed at shoring up religious belief worldwide that several of the saints were missionaries.
The pope sat on a golden throne wearing a cream-colored mantle with golden stripes and a miter with red trim.
He prayed that “the witness of the new saints” would “speak today to the whole church.
“May their intercession strengthen and sustain her in her mission to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world,” he added.
Tens of thousands of faithful, some wearing feathered headdresses and beads, others in colorful Hawaiian shirts and leis, turned out for the event in the Vatican City.
The loudest cheers were for Saint Pedro Calungsod, a 17th-century Filipino martyr, from a large contingent of Italy’s Filipino community that came out to celebrate the occasion.
Native Americans from across the United States and Canada came to Rome to celebrate Kateri, who had long been a symbol of hope.
Early Sunday morning, a group from the First Nation of the Ojibwe in Manitoba, Canada, stood in a ircle in Saint Peter’s Square sounding round leather drums and singing “Kateri oh Kateri, you’re in my holy plan.”
Kateri’s canonization was confirmed last year by the pope after a 5-year-old survived from deadly flesh-eating bacteria which infected him through a cut on his lip in 2006.
He survived through Kateri's intercession, including the placement of her relic on Jake's leg.
Kateri was born in Auriesville in New York to an Algonquin mother and father who was Mohawk.
She was baptized by French Jesuits at age 20 after losing her parents in a smallpox epidemic.
After being persecuted by some of her contemporaries for her faith, she fled to an Indian settlement in what is now Canada, where she died at age 24,
“Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture,” the poper said.
“It’s a combination of your Catholic and your native traditions blending together,” Ms. Smith said who is from Mississippi Choctaw and Navajo heritage. “We all believe in the same creator. God, creator, Father Sky — it’s all the same.”
Among the other saints named were Jacques Berthieu, a 19th-century Jesuit missionary who was killed by rebels in Madagascar, Carmen Salles y Barangueras, a Spanish nun and Giovanni Battista Piamarta who founded a Catholic press in Brescia, Italy.
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