A reader named Dan sent in this tip, telling me that the Roman Catholic Church is about to pressgang their very first Aboriginal saint into service. Kateri Tekakwitha, who was baptized at age 20, declared herself God’s wife, fasted and self-flagellated and slept on thorns, and evangelized Christianity to her fellow Mohawks. And now, three hundred and fifty-odd years after she died, she’s apparently curing little boys of flesh-eating disease.
In 2006, a Washington State boy, about five years of age, hurt himself while playing basketball.
The young boy bumped his chin on the ground and ended up contracting Flesh Eating Disease.
Unfortunately, the only treatment for the disease is amputation and the doctors had gotten to a point where they couldn’t do anything for the boy after removing much of his face.
Eventually a priest was brought in to anoint the boy for healing purposes and then spoke with the parish, asking them to pray to Kateri, who is known as a healer.
Articles of Kateri’s clothing were also known to have healing powers, as many people experienced the affects themselves.
A Sister of the parish then went to visit the boy with a relic of Kateri’s and told the mother of the boy to place the relic on her son, and both the mother and sister began to pray over the boy.
A short time later, to everyone’s astonishment, the disease ceased and the boy is now 11 years old, has had reconstructive surgery, and is a very happy little boy.
Kateri’s history is actually quite interesting, coming as it does so hot on the heels of the devastation of the local indigenous peoples’ population by smallpox brought from Europe. The Jesuit missionaries embedded in their culture as part of a peace treaty between the Mohawk people and the European immigrants used a number of concepts from the native mythology to draw cultural parallels between Christianity and their local beliefs; early converts were mostly women, and practiced the same sorts of mortification that their native cultures already practiced.
The use and abuse of Kateri throughout the ages has been rather well-documented — she was fully-baptized and deemed a true convert at 20 and lived to 24, whereas converts to Catholicism were at the time never fully baptized until their deathbeds. She is reputed to have had smallpox scars that disappeared at the time of her death in 1680; in 1943 Pius XII delcared this “an authentic miracle” despite the obvious lack of evidence for the claim. In December 2011, Ratzinger approved this flesh-eating disease remission to be a true miracle, and she’s now up for full sainthood.
It’s mind-boggling that people believe this stuff to be miraculous at all. Barring the fact that the child was actually treated for the disease quite extensively by doctors, what “saved” him is ostensibly being touched by a thing that also touched a Mohawk Christian over three hundred years prior. The bar for sainthood is that someone attributed a long-shot to the person, without any evidence whatsoever. It suffices to say “we don’t know how it happened but we did this other thing that might conceivably have invoked the spirit of a long-dead person who was also Christian.”
I am absolutely disgusted by the lengths to which these people would go to “bring Christianity to the heathen savages” — bringing them a terrible disease (knowingly or not), then taking advantage of their weakened state to convert them, likely by promising that God would cure them. And now, First Nations non-Christians have this nonsense hanging over their heads as well. This kind of slow erosion of an entire culture, and eventual subjugation to a specific religion, is insidious and disturbing. It feels very much like “convert or die”, only played over centuries. There are no logical arguments to be made against this nonsense — all I’m left with is visceral revulsion.