Posted by: fvbcdm | December 19, 2011

Feast of many Vietnamese Martyrs (19 Dec 2011)

As we begin this week before Christmas, I find in my incoming email the most recent letter from the Vatican Information Service.  One of the items it contains is that the Holy See has approved another miracle that can be used for the canonization of Blessed Marianne Cope.  I’m very happy to see this, because of my interest in three people who devoted much of their lives to the care of leprosy patients in the Hawaiian Islands in the 19th century.  The most well-known of them has been canonized already; he is Saint Damian de Veuster—the famous “Father Damian” of the island of Molokai in the Hawaiian chain.  

Now, the second seems to be well on her way to canonization.  She was born in Germany into a devout and numerous family by the name of Koob, which is pronounced “Cope” in German.  When she was just a baby, her family immigrated to Utica, New York, where she grew up. To be pronounced correctly, the family name was changed to Cope.  Her father became an invalid and she took care of him until his death when she was 24 years old.  Then she was free to do what she eagerly wanted to do; she entered the Franciscan Sisters in Syracuse, New York.  She spent much of her early religious life in hospital administration.  In 1883, when she was 45 years old, an appeal came to her community asking for Sisters to come to Hawaii, which was an independent country ruled by kings and queens.  She obtained permission to go with six other Sisters.  They began their work on the islands of Maui and Oahu, and then focused their attention on the large leper colony on Molokai.  Mother Marianne met Father Damian in 1884, but he was already suffering from leprosy and died shortly afterward.  She took over his work;  it brought great joy to his heart to know that his work would go on in the splendid work of the Franciscan Sisters.  Mother (now Blessed) Marianne Cope continued to live and work at Molokai until her death in 1918.

Another very generous soul by the name of Joseph Dutton, who was baptized in our Dominican parish church of St. Peter in Memphis, TN, also came to Molokai to work among the lepers.  But that’s another interesting story.  So it seems that very soon, the work among the lepers of Hawaii will soon produce the second canonized saint who labored for years in what is now a part of the United States. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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