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Sainthood for 2 from Mohawk Valley

FONDA, N.Y. - Starting next year, New York’s Mohawk Valley can boast of being the home of two of the Roman Catholic Church’s newest saints.

The Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk Indian, spent most of her life here during the 17th century and ministered to the sick and elderly. About 200 years later and 40 miles to the west, the Blessed Mother Marianne Cope began a religious life that focused on providing medical care in central New York and the Hawaiian islands.

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On Dec. 20, Pope Benedict XVI certified miracles attributed to the two women, the final step toward sainthood. The canonizations of the women are expected to happen this year.

Elevation to sainthood for Tekakwitha, a first for a Native American, is expected to boost visits to a pair of local shrines linked to her life in Fonda and in nearby Auriesville.

Tekakwitha is credited with the miraculous recovery of a 6-year-old Washington state boy who had a tissue-destroying disease.

Cope’s roots in the Mohawk Valley began in Utica, where her family settled in 1840 after emigrating from Germany the previous year when she was a year old. A factory worker until she joined the Franciscan sisters in Syracuse in the early 1860s, the young nun worked as a nurse and hospital administrator, helping to found two hospitals that are still in operation.

The Vatican recognized Cope’s intercession for the unexplained cure of a New York girl dying of multiple organ failure. It recommended her canonization in December after a second recovery was attributed to her intercession.

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