Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American Catholic Saint, patron saint of the environment. Born in 1656 of an Algonquin Christian mother and a Mohawk Chief, she lived in the Mohawk tribe in what is now upstate New York. She is the symbol of purity in Nature and her spiritual journey included many hours of prayer in the wooded lands of the Hudson River Valley. Her parents and a brother died in a smallpox epidemic which left Kateri scarred and partially blind. Jesuit missionaries established a church near her village and she received her education and sacraments there. Her remaining family and other tribe members aggressively opposed her decision to dedicate herself to Christ instead of living a Mohawk life. Her steadfastness to her faith overcame their objections and they learned to accept her and embrace her new religion. Kateri devoted her time to teaching children and caring for the sick. During the last part of her life, Kateri endured great suffering from serious illness. She died on April 17th, 1680, shortly before her 24th birthday, and was buried in Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada.
Saint Kateri was canonized in 2012.