FERNDALE, Wash. -- Six years ago, 12-year-old Jake Finkbonner nearly died. A flesh-eating bacteria had nearly consumed his face.

The family s pastor suggested praying in the name of Blessed Kateri Tekawitha. Soon afterwards, things changed.

Now, the Finkbonner family is headed to the Vatican City in Rome, where Blessed Kateri will be canonized and become the Catholic Church s first Native American saint.

There was a bigger plan intended for Jake, said Jake s mother, Elsa. It was that (Blessed Kateri) would become a saint based on his story.

In order to become a saint, it must be shown that a miracle has taken place. In this case, Jake s story is that miracle.

Twenty-two surgeries, two weeks of hyberbaric treatment every day. Yeah, it was dire, Finkbonner explained.

The Finkbonners are traveling with a large group to see the canonization take place. Jake will present a small plaque to Pope Benedict XVI.

She is truly a gift from God and I would not be here today if it were not for her, Finkbonner recited from Jake's speech.

Jake is looking forward to the trip. His mother said he s been studying about Italy in the weeks leading up to the journey.

I m pretty darn excited to go, Jake said, It ll be the trip of a lifetime.

The family is flying to Rome Tuesday afternoon. Blessed Kateri will be canonized Oct. 21st.

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