Pilgrims flock to Rome to celebrate their new saints
Wearing Native American beads and feathers, Hawaiian leis, classic Filipino shirts, or German dirndls, Catholics from around the globe gathered in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the recognition of seven new saints.
One of the pilgrims who came to celebrate the canonization of St. Kateri Tekakawita Oct. 21 was Blessed Sacrament Father Dana Pelotte, twin brother of the late Bishop Donald E. Pelotte of Gallup, N.M., the first American Indian bishop of the United States.
“I think the canonization will have a tremendous spiritual effect on the native peoples — I really do. Being a native person has so much spiritual beauty,” and the canonization of Kateri, the first indigenous saint of North America, will strengthen that, said the priest, whose father was of Abenaki descent.
Attending a reception sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in the Vatican Museums’ garden Oct. 19, Father Pelotte was constantly approached by American Indian pilgrims who told him of their love for his brother and how pleased he would be by the canonization. “I know he’s here in spirit with us today,” Father Pelotte told each one of them.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, told Catholic News Service that he and his fellow Native American Catholics have been praying for St. Kateri’s canonization for a very long time.
The saint was born to an Algonquin Christian mother and a Mohawk father, who died when she was young. She resisted strong pressure from the Mohawks to abandon her faith, so she could be considered a model for those facing religious persecution, the archbishop said.
St. Kateri, who died in 1680 at the age of 24, also is a model for the new evangelization, Archbishop Chaput said. “She was a young, vibrant member of her community, but she was different from the rest of them because of her unique personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is what sanctity is generally about — it’s about taking Christ seriously in a personal way, in a way that goes beyond where most of us go.”
Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihwa and Gloria Marks were two of nine patient-residents who came to the canonization from Kalaupapa, Hawaii, where the new St. Marianne Cope ministered among people with Hansen’s disease, which is commonly called leprosy.
Kahilihwa said St. Marianne left as her legacy “how she felt toward humanity,” and that her message is “never underestimate” the value of person, no matter what their sickness is; “and don’t be afraid to challenge the unchallenged and down low.” [More]