The Apparitions of St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Extracted from the original account by Father Pierre Cholenec, from his Life of Katherine Tekakwitha (1696), one of the sources consulted in the canonization process. Cholenec was one of St. Kateri’s earliest biographers, along with Father Claude Chauchetiere who was her confessor and who reported the first appearance.

“Having spoken until now of Katharine’s life and death, we shall consider some apparitions that concern her, and of the extraordinary favors that several people obtained from heaven and receive daily in Canada through her intercession.” . . .

“The sixth day after Katharine’s death, that is to say, the Monday after Easter, a person of virtue and worthy of belief was praying at four o’clock in the morning, when Katharine appeared to him surrounded by glory, with majestic bearing and shining face lifted toward heaven as if in ecstasy. This marvelous vision was accompanied by three circumstances that made it seem more remarkable. In the first place, the vision lasted for two whole hours, during which this person could contemplate her at leisure and did so with a joy and a pleasure difficult to express, Katharine wishing by so marked a favor to acknowledge the great service she had received from him during her lifetime. Moreover this same apparition was accompanied by several prophecies, and by as many symbols which might be seen on both sides of Katharine in her ecstasy. Some of these prophecies have already been fulfilled, while others have not yet come to pass. . . .

Fr. Claude Chauchetiere’s portrait of St. Kateri, inspired by the apparitions.

In the following year, 1681, on the first of September, and in 1682, on the twenty-first of April, this same person had a similar vision under the same circumstances, with this one difference, that in the first apparition he had seen Katharine as a rising sun, and had heard these words: Adhuc veni in dies, whereas in the two following he saw her as a sun in mid-heaven with these words: Inspice et fac secundum exemplar (Exod. 25:20), God thus making it known that He wished pictures to be painted of Katharine. For a long time we had refrained from doing so, but when they were painted later on they contributed a great deal toward making Katharine known, for, being placed on the heads of the sick, they brought about marvelous cures.

Two days after the first of these apparitions, Katharine appeared to the good Anastasia in the following manner.

This fervent Christian woman remained alone in prayer that night after the others of her lodge had gone to bed. Feeling herself overcome by sleep, she finally lay down on her mat to rest, but no sooner had she closed her eyes than she was awakened by a voice which called her with these words: “Mother, arise.” She recognized Katharine’s voice. Far from having any fear, she immediately raised herself into a sitting position, and turning to the place whence the voice came, she saw Katharine standing beside her, brilliant with light. Half her body was engulfed in this brightness, and the upper part was as bright as the sun. She carried a cross in her hand which was more brilliant than everything else, and from it there shone forth so much light that she thought there could be nothing more beautiful upon earth.

“I saw her,” she insisted, “in this position clearly, awake as I was, and I heard these words very distinctly: ‘Mother, look at this cross and see how beautiful it is. It was the source of all my happiness during my life, and I counsel you to make it yours also.’” After these few words she disappeared, leaving her mother overjoyed and with a spirit so filled with this vision that after many years her memory of it is as fresh as it was the first day.”

July 14, 2020