Bl. Marianne Cope, a 19th century Franciscan sister who ministered to Hawaiian lepers, advanced towards official sainthood on Dec. 6 when a Vatican congregation recognized a second miracle attributed to her intercession.
The cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints confirmed a medical board’s unanimous ruling that the medical recovery of a Diocese of Syracuse woman with an irreversible and fatal health condition was inexplicable.
The bishops also confirmed a theologians’ report saying the miracle was due to Bl. Marianne Cope, according to the Syracuse, N.Y.-based Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Pope Benedict XVI’s approval is all that remains for her canonization to proceed.
Bl. Marianne Cope was born in western Germany in 1838. She entered religious life in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1862. She served as a teacher and principal in several schools in the state and established two of the first hospitals in the central New York area: St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse.
In 1883, Mother Marianne’s community was the only one of fifty to respond positively to an emissary from Hawaii who requested Catholic sisters to provide health care on the Hawaiian Islands, especially to those with leprosy.
Over the next five years, Bl. Marianne set up a system of long-term education and care for her patients.
She ministered to patients at Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. Her time of service overlapped with the last years of St. Damien of Molokai, a priest who served victims of Hansen’s disease and himself died of leprosy.
Bl. Marianne promised her sisters that none of them would ever contract the disease. To this day, no sister has. Her care earned her the affectionate title “beloved mother of the outcasts.”
She died in 1918 and was beatified in 2005.