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Pope B16 Canonized Marianne Cope last Sunday.

In his homily, the Pope said about St. Marianne Cope, known as the “Angel of the Lepers:”

“I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in 1838 in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in 1862 she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York.

Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused.  [“Initially, Mother Marianne only intended to help the six volunteer sisters to settle down in the mission.  Deeply touched by the plight of those with Hansen’s disease (then know as Leprosy), she chose instead to remain with them.”]*

She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers.

Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world. [“Mother Marianne served the lepers for 30 years; in her freely chosen exile, she provided a safe, loving home for the social outcasts.”]*

There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm.

She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.” Pope Benedict XVI

*The canonization biography prepared by the Office for Papal Celebration for the canonization ceremony adds the following, “With deep maternal concern, Mother Marianne promised her sisters that none of them would contract leprosy from their patients – and none have to this day.”