Vatican accepts miracle
by Kalaupapa nun Cope


Mother Marianne Cope: Catholic sister worked with leprosy patients until death in 1918

The Vatican cleared the way yesterday for the beatification of Mother Marianne Cope, a nun who worked for more than 30 years with leprosy patients at Molokai's Kalaupapa settlement.

The Vatican accepted a miracle attributed to the nun's intercession, a required step for beatification. No details of the miracle were given, but miracles of intercession typically involve prayers to the individual after their death.

Beatification is a formal step toward possible sainthood.

Born as Barbara Koob in Germany in 1838, Mother Marianne went to the United States at age 2 and later joined the order of St. Francis sisters in New York.

When Hawaii sought help caring for leprosy patients at the Kakaako Branch Hospital in 1883, Mother Marianne and six other sisters volunteered to go to Honolulu.

Five years later she moved to the isolated peninsula on Molokai to supervise a new home for girls. She eventually took over Kalaupapa's home for boys, too, and remained until she died in 1918 at age 80.

"A lot of local girls entered the community of Franciscan Sisters because of Mother Marianne," said Sister William Marie Eleniki, regional minister for the Sisters of Saint Francis in Hawaii.

Two now serve in Kalaupapa, and others serve in various capacities elsewhere in Hawaii, she said.

Eleniki, who grew up in Kaimuki, attended St. Francis High School, where she learned about Cope.

Cope's background as a hospital administrator in New York helped her understand disease and the need for cleanliness, and she dealt with patients one on one, Eleniki said.

Cope and six others went to Kalaupapa where they ministered to those with leprosy.

"No one wanted to deal with the disease, more like what you'd consider AIDS patients now -- lot of the horror stories and the fear of contracting it," Eleniki said.

Cope's "life of sacrifice, willingness to share your gifts and talents, especially with the less fortunate," drew Eleniki to the Franciscan Sisters.

"It's nice to see the recognition for the good work, and it gives Hawaii the recognition and the church," Eleniki said. "In a few years maybe Father Damien and Mother Marianne can both be canonized."

Also yesterday, the Vatican advanced the beatification of Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, a German who denounced Adolf Hitler's regime and condemned anti-Semitism after the Nazis came to power.

The Associated Press and Star-Bulletin reporter Leila Fujimori contributed to this report.

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