17th century Mohawk Indian, She Who Bumps Into Things, to be made a saint along with New York nun
- Kateri 'Caterina' Tekakwitha cared for the elderly and sick in New York and Canada until her death in 1680
- Was given her unfortunate surname because of her poor vision as it literally means 'she who bumps into things'
- Mother Marianne Cope, also known as 'Mother of the Outcasts', cared for exiled lepers in Hawaii
- The two are among seven Roman Catholics to be canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday
By Helen Pow
A 17th century Mohawk Indian whose name means 'she who bumps into things' because of her poor vision and a New York nun who miraculously cured two dying patients will this weekend be declared saints.
Kateri 'Caterina' Tekakwitha and Mother Marianne Cope, also known as 'Mother of the Outcasts', are among seven Roman Catholics set to be canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday.
Hundreds of pilgrims are travelling to Rome to attend the ceremony, with some of Mother Marianne's followers stopping over in her hometown of Utica, New York, on the way.
Saintly: Mother Marianne Cope, pictured left in 1883, and Kateri Tekakwitha, right are among seven Roman Catholics set to be canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday
Mother Marianne was known for her strength and kindness, battling bureaucrats in Hawaii as she led a group of fellow Franciscan nuns to care for leprosy patients in the islands.
By declaring her a saint, the Vatican will formally recognise that she is in heaven and was responsible for teenager Kate Mahoney's medically inexplicable recovery from multiple organ failure in 1993 and Sharon Smith's successful 2005 fight against an infection that tore a hole between her intestines and stomach.
Saving Ms Mahoney's life almost 20 years ago paved the way for Mother Marianne's beatification in 2005, and Ms Smith's unlikely recovery was the miracle needed for her to be canonised.
They were cured after friends and family prayed to Mother Marianne. In Smith's case, a sister pinned a bag of soil containing some of Mother Marianne's bone fragments to her hospital gown.
At the ceremony on Sunday, presided over by the Pope, the church will also canonise Caterina Tekakwitha, a 17th-century Mohawk Indian and daughter of a Mohawk Chief.
Mohawk: Caterina Tekakwitha, pictured, lived from 1656-1680 in the U.S. and Canada, and became the first Native American to be beatified in 1980
Remembered: The National Kateri Shrine and Native American Museum is pictured in Fonda, New York
Caterina cared for the elderly and sick and lived from 1656-1680 in New York and Canada. She became the first Native American to be beatified in 1980 and was recently approved by Pope Benedict XVI as one of seven new Catholic saints.
Caterina has a national shrine located in Fonda, New York, where she lived as a teenager.
She was born in 1656 in nearby Auriesville but her parents - one of whom was a Mohawk Chief named Kenneronkwa - and brother died of smallpox when she was aged only four.
Caterina survived but was given the unfortunate surname because of her poor vision - as it literally means 'she who bumps into things'.
Sunday's ceremony comes nearly a century after Mother Marianne's 1918 death at Kalaupapa, an isolated peninsula on Molokai Island where Hawaii governments forcibly exiled leprosy patients for decades.
Mother Marianne heard the call to come to Hawaii from New York state in 1883 when she was 45.
She was the only religious leader in the U.S. and Europe - of 50 asked - who agreed to a request by Hawaii's king and queen to come to the islands to help leprosy patients.
Saved: The Vatican will formally recognise that Mother Marianne was responsible for the medically inexplicable recovery of Kate Mahoney, pictured right, and Sharon Smith, left
At the time, there was widespread fear of the disfiguring disease, which can cause skin lesions, mangled fingers and toes and lead to blindness.
'I am not afraid of any disease,' she wrote, agreeing to what would become a more than three-decade mission helping those banished to the unfriendly sea cliffs of the Hawaiian peninsula.
The Hawaiian kingdom began exiling patients to Kalaupapa in 1866 to control the disease, a policy that remained in place until a century later even though new drugs in the 1940s made it curable.
Shortly after her arrival from Syracuse, N.Y., she had learned that a government-appointed administrator was abusing patients at Branch Hospital in Honolulu.
Mother Marianne threatened to leave with the six sisters that accompanied her unless the government removed the official. The government soon gave her full oversight of the hospital.
'She was just an ordinary person, like us,' Charlotte Recarte, 67, a retiree from Oahu, told The New York Times. 'Inside all of us, we can be saints. We just have to do the work. That's what Mother Marianne did.'
Caterina found Christianity as a teenager despite her Mohawk clan being vehemently against it.
Banished: Children and adults stand outside Father Damien's church in the late 19th century when around 600 sufferers were shipped to the island
After her family passed away, she was looked after by her uncle, a Turtle Clan chief who hated the religion, but a conflict moved her four miles north-west to Caughnawaga, New York, aged 10.
Despite her disfigured face from smallpox, a number of men were interested in marrying her. But Caterina decided to stay celibate because she believed they only wanted her for political gain.
It was as she thought more about the potential of a loveless marriage, she started to find out about Christianity.
Her mother had given her a set of rosary prayer beads but her uncle had taken them away because he did not want her to become a Catholic. But she became more and more interested in the faith.
Caterina then began Catholic teaching in secret aged 18. Her uncle eventually allowed this as long as she stayed in their village.
She was persecuted by her fellow villagers for joining the faith but soon escaped to the Mission of St. Francis Xavier - a Canadian settlement.
Canonisation: Pope Benedict XVI, right, will declare the two women saints on Sunday
Caterina was known for her gentleness, kindness, and good humour, according to the website of her shrine in Fonda.
She vowed to stay a virgin for her whole life in 1679 in Canada and taught children to pray, as well as working with the elderly and sick.
She died in 1680 after a serious illness and was buried in Quebec, Canada. She was said to appear to many people after her death and held responsible for miracles.
Legend has it that just minutes after she died she shone brightly and all the marks from smallpox vanished from her face, revealing her true beauty.
Caterina is highly-regarded in Catholicism because of her commitment to helping others despite all the persecution and illness she suffered herself.
Both women will be honoured during the ceremony in Rome.
Two-hundred fifty pilgrims are travelling from Hawaii to witness the canonisation of Mother Marianne.
Among those attending the canonisation are nine Kalaupapa patients. Although cured, a dozen people still live at the peninsula, all older than 70.
It will be the second trip to Rome in three years for Hawaii pilgrims. Many made a similar trip in 2009 for the canonization of Saint Damien, a Belgian priest who moved to Kalaupapa to care for leprosy patients in 1873 and who died of the disease 16 years later.
Many are also making a pilgrimage to Utica, where Mother Marianne moved with her family from Germany in 1839, aged one.
At St. Joseph's church and parish school, she developed her faith but left in eight grade to work in a factory after her father became ill. In 1862, she entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse.
Bishop Silva said Mother Marianne's life has many lessons for people today, even though leprosy isn't a threat anymore. Her example can be applied to other issues, such as domestic violence or homelessness.
'She is an inspiration to us to do the hard work, to not always do the glory work, but to roll up our sleeves and do what needs to be done for the sake of our brothers and sisters,' he said
(Daily Mail UK)