First North American aboriginal declared a saint
It's been decades in the making and now a woman laid to rest in Kahnawake has become a saint.
Kateri Tekakwitha, who was known as "Blessed Kateri", became the first native North American to be beatified by Pope John Paul in 1980.
She was born in Upstate New York in 1656 and died of smallpox in Kahnawake in 1680.
One of the miracles performed was that the smallpox and scars disappeared upon her death, which is why today she is called "Lily of the Mohawks".
Albert Lazare has been working towards sainthood for this young woman for decades, and is caretaker of the Kateri Centre in Kahnawake. He has been petioning for Kateri's sainthood since he was 17. He is now 78 and in Rome with his wife Eileen and son Arnold for today's ceremony. He sat steps from the altar, a position of honour, in full view of the Pope.
Arnold says he's witnesed not only his father's efforts, but the entire community, and hopes today's actions will begin the healing process between the Catholic church and First Nation's people.
Hundreds of people from both Kahnawake and Akwasasne are in Rome for the ceremony, as well as Tuesday's celebration with Canadian dignitaries.
The actual ceremony took place at 3 a.m. Montreal time. A re-broadcast of Kateri's canonization will be at 9 a.m. in Kahnawake. A special mass will be held at St. Francis Xavier church at 10.30 a.m., where Kateri Tekakwitha is buried. For this occasion, the church will remain open until 5 p.m.