Among a group of seven blesseds soon to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI as saints, two are of special significance to America.
Blessed Marianne Cope was a nursing sister who joined St. Damien de Veuster at his mission to lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was a Mohawk Indian who converted to Catholicism. Blessed Kateri will be the first Native American to be proclaimed a saint.
Anyone unaware of the leper priest, St. Damien de Vuester of Molokai, suffers a great poverty of knowledge and should become familiar with his heroic works of mercy. Blessed Marianne shares in his inspirational works and surely deserves the honors which she now receives.
Blessed Kateri has the honor of being the first Native American saint. She exhibited extraordinary courage as the only member of her Mohawk tribe to convert to Christianity, later making a 200 mile journey (by foot) to avoid execution due to her conversion.
It was once far more common to be acquainted with the saints and heroes of our past. Such familiarization provided important role models and practical guides for behavior - responsibilities which have now largely been transferred to sports and musical celebrities. But it is refreshing to be reminded that great people walk amongst us. I've recently been reading of Saint Therese of Lisieux and her "little way" of simple abandonment to God through the perfection of small duties. I wonder how many "little flowers" are undiscovered acquaintances to each of us today?