Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Tegakouita, Catharine

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TEGAKOUITA, Catharine, Indian convert, b. in Gandahouague, or Gandawague, in northern New York, in 1656; d. in Caughnawaga, Canada, 17 April, 1680. The name Tegakouita means “who puts things in order,” and is still in use at Caughnawaga. Her father was a heathen Iroquois, and her mother a Christian Algonquin. Her parents died when she was a child, and she was brought up by her uncle, who was a chief. Her first knowledge of Christianity appears to have been obtained from Jacques Fremin and two other missionaries, whom she entertained in her cabin. She embraced the new creed with fervor, resolved to remain single, and suffered much ill treatment from her relatives because of her refusal to marry; but she was not baptized until 1676. Her refusal to work on Sundays increased the hostility of her tribe toward her, and she had on one occasion a narrow escape from death. Calumnies were spread about her character, and she finally resolved to escape to the Christian village of La Prairie, which she reached in October, 1677, after many dangers. The rest of her life was spent in prayer, labor, and mortifications of the severest kind. She enrolled herself in the Confraternity of the Holy Family, and began to be regarded both by the French and Indians as a great saint. After death her grave became a place of pilgrimage, and, although an effort was made by the priests of the neighboring parishes to check devotion to her, she was invoked as a saint throughout Canada. Numerous miracles are said to have been wrought at her tomb, or by her relics. The third plenary council of Baltimore petitioned the holy see to take steps toward her canonization in 1884. See “Life of Catharine Tegakouita,” by Father Claude Chauchetiere (New York, 1886); her life by Cholonek, in vol. xii. of “Lettres édifiantes” (Paris, 1727); and Kipp's “Jesuit Missions” (New York, 1847).