In case you can’t tell by her name, she was an Indian and part of what was called the Turtle tribe in what is now New York, since she was adopted by the Turtle tribe’s chief. Thus, she is often associated with the turtle.
Kateri’s mother was a devout Catholic and instilled the faith in her, giving her a rosary that she held close to her body and soul.
When she was young, smallpox came around and took the lives of her parents together with many others. The outbreak also took most of Kateri’s sight to the point that she became quite disfigured and was nearly blinded. Due to this, she was always running into things. This has determined, it seems, her last name, which quite literally means “she who runs into things.” (Her first name, Kateri, is the French name for Catherine as her namesake is St. Catherine of Sienna.)
But Kateri survived that outbreak and at that point, still young, went to live with her uncle, who took away that rosary which her mother had bestowed to her since he wanted her to have nothing to do with the Christian faith.
Despite her remaining family’s opposition, Kateri was baptized at the Easter Vigil on April 18, 1676. Her remaining family was quite disappointed and rejected her. She is thus the patron of those rejected by their families and those rejected for their piety.
Her epitah reads:
Ownkeonweke Katsitsiio Teonsitsianekaron
The fairest flower that ever bloomed among red men.
We would do well to repeat Kateri’s last words often: “Jesus, I love you!”