Blessed Marianne Cope relics settle in Hawaii

Blessed Mother Marianne Cope
Blessed Mother Marianne Cope


Relics of Blessed Marianne Cope, a 19th century religious sister who ministered to exiled leprosy patients, will tour Hawaii and settle permanently in a local cathedral.

“The relic helps serve as a reminder of the holiness of her life which inspires us to live virtuous lives,” Sister Davilyn Ah Chick, a tour organizer, told the Associated Press.

Bl. Marianne's bone fragments will be brought on tour from May 6-8 in the regions of Molokai, Lanai, Kahului and the Big Island before going on permanent display at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in downtown Honolulu.

The reliquary is a small mahogany box etched with plumeria flowers and will be displayed in a koa wood case.

“To those of us who venerate the first-class relic of Bl. Marianne, it is not the bone fragments themselves that are meaningful, but who they were part of and what they represent,” Sr. Davilyn added.

Bishop Larry Silva of the Diocese of Honolulu had requested the relics from Mother Marianne's order, the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. On May 4, Sr. Patricia Burkard, general minister of the Sisters of Saint Francis, will arrive with the bone fragments, which have been confirmed as authentic by a forensic anthropologist.

Mother Marianne arrived in Hawaii in 1883, at age 45, with six other Franciscan sisters. She cared for leprosy patients at the Kalaupapa settlement on Molokai in 1888, five months after the death of St. Damien who was canonized in 2009.

Bl. Marianne is also credited with opening the Kapiolani Home for the daughters of leprosy patients and founded Maui's first general hospital.

“I am hungry for the work, I am not afraid of the disease, hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned lepers,” Mother Marianne said in 1883 in response to the request to serve.

She died on Kalaupapa in 1918 of natural causes and was buried there. Bl. Marianne's remains were exhumed from her grave site in 2005 for transport to the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II declared her “venerable,” which moves her closer to sainthood. The Vatican recognized her intercession for the unexplained healing of a New York girl dying of multiple organ failure. A second miracle must be authenticated for Bl. Marianne to be declared a saint.