VATICAN CITY Tens of thousands of faithful, some wearing feathered headdresses and beads, others in colorful Hawaiian shirts and leis, turned out Sunday as Pope Benedict XVI canonized seven saints, including the first American Indian one as well as a 19th-century nun who tended to patients with leprosy on Hawaii.
Cheers rose from the crowd when the pope named Kateri Tekakwitha, known as Lily of the Mohawks and beloved by American Indians; and Sister Marianne Cope, a German-born nun who was raised in Utica, N.Y., before moving to Hawaii. But the loudest cheers were for Saint Pedro Calungsod, a 17th-century Filipino martyr, from a large contingent of Italys Filipino community that came out to celebrate.
Benedict prayed that the witness of the new saints would speak today to the whole church.
Kateri was born in Auriesville, N.Y., about 40 miles west of Albany, in 1656, to an Algonquin mother and father who was Mohawk. She was baptized by French Jesuits at age 20 after losing her parents in a smallpox epidemic. After being persecuted by some of her contemporaries for her faith, she fled to an Indian settlement in what is now Canada, where she died at age 24.
Some American Indians have said that canonizing Kateri is an implicit offense to American Indian traditions, but Eleanor Smith, a youthful 80, from Albuquerque, did not agree.
We all believe in the same creator. God, creator, Father Sky its all the same, said Smith, who is from Mississippi Choctaw and Navajo heritage.
Others came to honor Saint Marianne Cope, a former mother superior of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis in Syracuse, N.Y., who moved to the island of Molokai in 1883 to tend to those with Hansens disease, or leprosy.
Benedict called Saint Marianne, who died in 1913, a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.
The Vatican confirmed that a woman from Syracuse was cured from complications of pancreatitis in 2005 after praying to Mother Marianne, the second miracle needed to assure the nuns sainthood.
Saint Pedro Calungsod was killed by tribesmen on Guam in 1672 when he was helping Spanish Jesuits convert the natives. Among the other saints named Sunday were Jacques Berthieu, a 19th-century Jesuit missionary who was killed by rebels in Madagascar; Carmen Salles y Barangueras, a Spanish nun; and Giovanni Battista Piamarta, who founded a Catholic press in Brescia, Italy.