Pope names new saints including Native American

Native Americans on St Peter's Square, the Vatican, 21 October First Nation Canadians Harry Lafond (L) and Wilton Littlechild were at the Vatican for the event

Related Stories

A Native American and six others have been named as saints by Pope Benedict XVI at the start of a new drive to deepen the faith of believers.

The pontiff named the seven at a ceremony in St Peter's Square at the start of a "Year of Faith".

Kateri Tekakwitha, who lived in the 17th Century, impressed missionaries with her deep spirituality.

The other new saints include a nun who tended a Hawaiian leper colony and a French missionary killed in Madagascar.

In the Roman Catholic Church, a saint is a person who has been recognised officially as being in Heaven.

Feathers and beads

As the sun rose over St Peter's Square on Sunday morning, Native American pilgrims in beaded and feathered headdresses sang songs to Kateri Tekakwitha, the Associated Press news agency reports.

A tapestry of Kateri Tekakwitha hangs on St Peter's Basilica, 19 October A tapestry of Kateri Tekakwitha has been hanging on St Peter's Basilica

In recent a years a miraculous intervention has been ascribed to Miss Tekakwitha, who was born in what is now New York State and died in what is now Canada.

The Vatican believes she saved the life of a Native American child who was being ravaged by a flesh-eating bacterium.

This, the Church decided, was the final miracle required to qualify her for sainthood.

It is also felt that her elevation would give Native American Catholics an important boost, reports the BBC's Alan Johnston, in Rome.

They are criticised by some in their communities for retaining the Christian faith, regarded by some as an imposition by European colonisers, our correspondent adds.

Miss Tekakwitha, who is sometimes known today as Lily Of The Mohawks, died at the age of 24.

The other figures who became saints on Sunday are

  • German-born Franciscan nun Maria Anna Cope who is known as Mother Marianne Of Molokai because she looked after lepers on the island of Molokai in the Hawaii archipelago
  • French Jesuit Jacques Berthieu, who was executed by rebels in 1896 in Madagascar
  • The Philippines' Pedro Calungsod, a young seminarian who was killed on the island of Guam when he visited with a Jesuit priest to baptise a young girl
  • German lay preacher Maria Schaeffer, who died in 1925
  • Italian priest Giovanni Battista Piamarta, who in the late 19th Century devoted his life to helping young people during the industrial revolution and founded a religious congregation
  • Spanish nun Maria del Carmen, who also founded a congregation and worked to better the lot of poor women in the 19th Century

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    Once I found out saints were in most cases real people I read up about a few of them. There has been some remarkably dedicated Christians who have been totally selfless and suffered terribly as a consequence. It is right to remember these people. Atheist or not, you can not ignore such dedication to compassion. Perhaps we are entering an age where we need to grasp the concept of compassion

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    267. kath small

    Wow how low can you go stealing someone else's quote from a tweet n trying to take the credit for it. That was tweeted by ricky gervais this week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    As an atheist I do not say I belive in evidence based belief. I believe in evidence based science. There is a difference but maybe as a believer in magic who don't understand that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    265. SwampPuppet
    "Atheism will eat itself. Atheists have less than 2 children per woman. Its the only world religion that doesn't work."

    first of all, atheism is not a religion. second, the worlds population could do with a little reduction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    GREAT IDEA! Let's put Christianity to the test! Let's see if Christians really follow the teachings of Peace, Love & Patience! Let's abuse and insult Christianity in general & the Catholic Church in particular. How will these Christians react? With protests? With rage? With bombs? With placards of "BEHEAD ALL BLASPHEMERS"? Or will they simply continue to affirm their faith on the BBC forum?

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    @ 250 Daniel Milloy - no irony. If no religious headline had appeared, no atheist, no-one at all in fact, would be commenting. The atheist point is that religion should be a private, personal matter not one to be shoved in everyone else's face. Atheists, who have lived in fear and been proselytized for centuries, are now as free as anyone; small wonder we do a spot of tit-for-tat now and then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    @265, mankind will eat itself as we are overpopulating the planet. We need your God to send a plague or similar so we don't wipe ourselves out due to our own stupidity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    224Ethan Farber

    No one save the rare genius works out their moral system by reflection. Almost everyone gets it from their culture and society, religious or otherwise.
    It's not as hard as you claim. Only be questioning the status quo can we improve moral values - no so long ago it was a crime to be a practicing homosexual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    # jeremy ross

    Expand the market share ? Oh yes, I, as a Malaysian, would we very delighted as I believe it sure is better than the so corrupted, hidden from the secular world politics, human rights ..

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    A lot of you religion bashers are not consistent:

    You say you believe in 'evidence based belief,' but then go on to say you are atheists! If you think there is no god shouldn't you be 'agnostics,' or do you have some proof that you are not telling the world?

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    265. SwampPuppet
    Atheists have less than 2 children per woman.

    I'm sure you could have phrased that better. It sounds like you're bragging about the greater fertility of your livestock.

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.


    Yes, because as we all know, it's far better for a good Catholic woman in Africa to have thirteen kids (eleven more than she can financially support) before finally dying in childbirth from the fourteenth, all because she sincerely believes the Pope when he says that condoms are evil and immoral, and that they actually increase the chances of HIV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    @kath small "This week I safely dropped a human being from space while you shot a 14 year old girl in the face for wanting to go to school".

    Very small. Pathetic in fact.

    Where are the BBC moderators now eh...?

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    Dr Ratzinger, Chief Executive of the catholic Church Inc is an expereinced and astute business strategist. By creating saints, he is creating a good news story, giving his corporation visability in countries where it hopes to expand market share. A sensible business stratgy and deserves an MBA

    Jeremy Ross

  • Comment number 267.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    This is only yet another desperate attempt by the purveyors an antiquated belief system to add a few more bells and whistles. How so many millions of people can be duped into believing this crap is beyond belief.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    Atheism will eat itself. Atheists have less than 2 children per woman. Its the only world religion that doesn't work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    The Big Bang is just a modern fairy tale.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.


    Morality exists independently from religion. Religion has hijacked moral values and has indoctrinated people by making them believe that moral values only pertain to religion. I am an atheist and I have more moral values than all the believers put together!

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    @3. SuidwesBoerseun
    All religion is the invention of humans so why pick on just one?


Page 1 of 15


More Europe stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.