St. Marianne Cope

Thu, 23 Jan 2014 19:23:39 +0000


St. Marianne Cope

Marianne was born on January 23, 1838, to Peter and Barbara Cope of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany.  Approximately two years later, the Cope family migrated to the United States, settling in Utica, New York.  Initially, Barbara worked in a factory until 1862, but heard a calling to the religious life.  She chose to make her profession with the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York.  Thereafter, she taught at the Assumption Parish School.

Marianne held the offices of superior and twice she was the novice mistress of her Order.  On three occasions, she was appointed to serve as superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse.  Her experience at this hospital would prove to be most beneficial.

In 1877, Marianne was elected provincial and then re-elected to that position in 1881.  Two years later, the Hawaiian government searched for an individual to head the Kakaako Receiving Station for people who were suspected of suffering from leprosy, wherein 50 religious communities were invited to attend to this call.  As to the sisters of St. Francis, 35 sisters agreed to serve in this capacity.

Accordingly, on October 22nd, 1883, Mother Marianne and six other sisters left for this Station located outside Honolulu, on the island of Maui.  They started a school for girls and also a hospital.

In 1988, once again Mother Marianne answered God’s call, going to Molokai with two other sisters to open a home for “unprotected women and girls.”  Indeed and in fact, she took over the home that Damien de Veuster, known as St. Damien of Molokai, established for men and boys.  She instituted changes in the colony, teaching the people about cleanliness, pride and fun.  She taught about enjoying colors, where the women were encouraged to wear bright clothing.

The Hawaiian government awarded Mother Marianne the Royal Order of Kapiolani, wherein she was even honored in a poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson.  This resourceful and courageous leader continued her hard work with her sisters, and still today, the sisters of that Order serve on Molokai.

She died on August 9, 1918, was beatified in 2005 and was canonized in 2012.

This saint is a particularly interesting lady, full of love for Our Lord and His people.  She went to Molokai without reserve, and did so with hope, teaching the people who lived in this colony about beauty and joy.  She found Jesus everywhere she worked in the people she served.  Her leadership skills were amazing and her efforts productive, as evidenced by her being elected to important responsible positions.  Let us remember this wonderful lady’s brilliance, determination and absolute love of God and His people, especially when we go about our daily chores, that we do so with a joyful heart and enthusiasm like she did.



Source:  Saint of the Day, Edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

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