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 CNS Story:

COPE-BEATIFICATION May-16-2005 (890 words) With photos. xxxi

Nun's work among leprosy patients recalled in beatification ceremony

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Mother Marianne Cope of Molokai was beatified at a Vatican liturgy that recalled her missionary spirit and her self-giving work among leprosy patients in Hawaii.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, presided over the beatification Mass May 14 in St. Peter's Basilica. Also beatified was a Spanish nun who founded a missionary religious order.

After brief summaries of their lives were read aloud, Cardinal Saraiva Martins read the decree proclaiming the two "blessed." As giant banners with portraits of the newly beatified were unveiled, a wave of applause swept through the basilica.

In attendance were more than 100 Catholics from Hawaii and more than 300 from Syracuse, N.Y., where members of Blessed Mother Marianne's order, the Sisters of St. Francis, have their motherhouse.

"It's a very powerful day, a very sacred day and a very blessed day for us, because Blessed Marianne is one of our own, and we think she is leading us into the future," said Sister Grace Anne Dillenschneider, assistant general minister of the order.

"She models for us what it means to love your neighbor as yourself," she said.

Hawaiian-born Sister Marie Jose Romano was part of a 40-person choir that sang "Makalapua," a native hymn said to have been one of Blessed Mother Marianne's favorites. She said people today are inspired by Blessed Mother Marianne's willingness to sacrifice and take risks on behalf of others.

"We need that in the modern world, especially today. We need the love and caring for people that she showed," she said.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins described Blessed Mother Marianne as someone who spoke "the language of truth and love" to the world.

"The life of Blessed Marianne Cope is a wonderful work of divine grace. She demonstrated the beauty of the life of a true Franciscan," Cardinal Saraiva Martins said in a homily.

He said the German-born nun already had worked for 20 years in New York when "suddenly God called her to a more radical giving, to a more difficult missionary service." In the 1880s, the bishop of Honolulu was looking for sisters to assist leprosy patients on the island, and Blessed Mother Marianne volunteered.

"Blessed Marianne loved those suffering from leprosy more than she loved her very self. She served them, educated them, and guided them with wisdom, love and strength," Cardinal Saraiva Martins said.

"She saw in them the suffering face of Jesus. Like the good Samaritan, she became their mother," he said.

The cardinal declared that Jan. 23, Blessed Mother Marianne's birthday, would be her feast day.

Marianne Cope was born in 1838 in Germany, and two years later her family immigrated to Utica, N.Y. After working briefly in a factory, she joined the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y., and taught at a parish school. She later became administrator of St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse, where she learned much about nursing.

After arriving in Hawaii with six other sisters in 1883, she ran a receiving station for patients near Honolulu and opened a hospital and a girls' school on the island of Maui.

In 1888 she went to the island of Molokai, where she and two of her sisters opened a home for women and girls who suffered from the disease. When Blessed Damien de Veuster, the more famous Belgian missionary to Hawaiian leprosy patients, died of the disease in 1889, Mother Marianne took over the home that he had run for men and boys.

Her work was celebrated in honors bestowed by the Hawaiian government and in a poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson. She died on the island, at age 80, Aug. 9, 1918.

Beatification is a major step toward sainthood, and requires verification of a miracle attributed to the intercession of the person being beatified; for canonization, a second miracle is required.

For Blessed Mother Marianne, the miracle involved the unexplained healing of a U.S. girl more than 10 years ago. The girl had experienced multiple organ failure and doctors considered death a certainty. But after prayers seeking Mother Marianne's intercession, the girl recovered.

The Mass in St. Peter's was the first beatification liturgy since 1971 that was not presided over by the pope. Pope Benedict XVI decided, after years of discussion at the Vatican, to preside only at canonization liturgies, to help underline the distinction between the two steps.

Catholics from Syracuse and Hawaii participated in the liturgy in several ways. One read a prayer of the faithful for "all who suffer as a result of war, sickness, leprosy or any kind of rejection or neglect."

U.S. pilgrims carried up offertory gifts, including the Communion bread, a set of priestly vestments and a traditional Hawaiian "maile" lei, which is made of green leaves.

The Spanish nun beatified was Blessed Florentina Nicol Goni, also known as Mother Ascension del Corazon de Jesus, founder of the Dominican Missionaries of the Rosary.

When someone is beatified, the pope allows members of the person's religious order and Catholics in the place the person lived to celebrate the newly beatified person's feast day Mass and hold other public acts of veneration.

Canonization, on the other hand, is an official papal declaration that the person -- now recognized as a saint -- is to be venerated throughout the Catholic Church.

END


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