Kateri was born in 1656, in a Mohawk Indian village. When she was only four years old, smallpox hit her village and killed many people including her parents and brother. Kateri survived but was weakened and left with scars which partially blinded her and served as a source of humiliation throughout her childhood.
After her parents' death, Kateri was raised by tribal relatives, becoming an expert in domestic tribal arts and growing in deep appreciation for nature. As she got older, Kateri encountered some visiting Jesuit missionaries and was drawn to their joy and relationship with Christ. She began to lead a life inspired by their example. Kateri fell in love with Jesus, refused an arranged marriage by her family, and converted to Catholicism at age 19, taking a vow of chastity and pledging to marry only Jesus Christ.
Her village did not approve of this decision, leading to great suffering and persecution from her family and neighbors. She fled to the Christian Indian mission of St Francis Xavier in Montreal where she became known as the “Lily of the Mohawks” in recognition of her purity, kindness, prayer, faith, and heroic suffering.
Sadly, just five years after her conversion to Catholicism, she became ill and passed away at age 24, on April 17, 1680. Her last words were, "Jesos konoronhkwa! which translate to "Jesus, I love you." Moments after dying, her scarred face "shone like the sun."