SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Hundreds of people attended a Mass Wednesday to celebrate the return of the remains of Mother Marianne Cope, a Franciscan nun who is a candidate for sainthood for her work with lepers in late 19th-century Hawaii.
“Her life of compassion and care touches us all and fills us with a deep sense of gratitude,” said Syracuse Bishop James Moynihan during the service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Last week, Mother Marianne’s remains were exhumed from her grave on a remote peninsula on Molokai in Hawaii, where she died in 1918 after 35 years of ministering to leprosy patients.
The Vatican required the identification of Mother Marianne’s remains as part of the process for canonization.
Mother Marianne was born Barbara Koob in 1838 in Germany. She grew up in Utica, N.Y., and took her vows as a Franciscan sister in 1863. In Syracuse, she was a founder of the city’s first hospital.
Mother Marianne and six other Franciscan sisters went to Hawaii in 1883 to work with leprosy patients. The Sisters of St. Francis have ministered at Kalaupapa on Molokai ever since. About three dozen leprosy patients now live there.
In December, Pope John Paul II accepted a miracle attributed to Mother Marianne’s intervention involving a Syracuse teenager who recovered from multiple organ failure. That cleared the way for beatification, expected this year.
Acceptance of a second miracle is required for sainthood.
On Thursday, Mother Marianne’s remains were moved to the Franciscan Motherhouse, where the sisters plan to build a shrine to hold them.