Tekakwitha was a Mohawk woman born in 1656 near New York. Her mother, Tagaskouita, had been baptized by Catholic missionaries. When she was 4 she contracted smallpox, which left lasting scars on her skin. For this reason, she often covered her face. The epidemic killed all her family and she was brought up by her uncle. When the time came for Tekakwitha to marry she refused. Her adoptive family tried to break her by giving her hard work to do, but she was steadfast and patiently bore her burden.
At the age of 19, she answered the call of Christ and was baptized. Her family and tribe disapproved, and she went to live in a Jesuit-run community to avoid persecution. She took a vow of chastity and undertook many mortifications such as fasting and placing thorns under her sleeping mat.
These acts of self-denial may have helped to hasten her death. She died at the age of 24. She was made a saint by Benedict XVI in 2012. Her feast is July 14 in the US and April 17 in Canada. She is the patron saint of Native Americans, orphans, and exiles.