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The miracles of Kateri Tekakwitha

By DAVE DELLECESE

Kateri Tekakwitha, along with Marianne Cope, will soon become saints in the eyes of the Catholic Church. The path to sainthood, as you might expect, is not an easy one, and Kateri Tekakwitha's came with its own share of roadblocks.

"First of all, they have to get all the information they can about her life from people who knew her or any writings the person may have had," said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. "And then, in order to be canonized, you need a bona fide miracle. And that was the big hold up for her, because there was only one miracle that we had prior to recently."

At least two miracles are needed in order to become a saint. There were many alleged miracles over the centuries, including healing a young boy with smallpox, restoring a priest's hearing, and others, through possessions once associated with Kateri. It would take until the 20th century before the miracles that would make her sainthood a reality. It began in 1943 then-Pope Pius XII declared that the disappearance of Tekakwitha's smallpox scars at the time of her death was an authentic miracle.

"A few years ago, there was a young man in Seattle, Washington who had been injured in a basketball game and he developed a flesh eating bacteria and the doctors determined that he was terminally ill, was going to die," Bishop Hubbard said. "And they called the priest to give him the last rites and he asked the father, who happened to be a Native American, himself, if the father was willing to have the relic of Kateri Tekakwitha applied to him. It was, and against all medical explanation, he was able to recover and he will be at the canonization."

In December 2011, Pope Benedict XVI approved this second miracle needed for Kateri's canonization, paving the way for her canonization on Sunday, October 21.

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