ROME and HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Vatican announced Saturday that Mother Marianne Cope of Molokai will be elevated to sainthood in October.
Pope Benedict XVI announced that Mother Marianne will be canonized with six others in ceremonies at the Vatican on October 21. She will become the second Hawaii saint, after Father Damien was canonized in 2009.
Mother Marianne arrived in Hawaii in 1883, first serving five years caring for the Hansen's Disease patients at the Kakaako Branch Hospital before spending the last 30 years of her life among the patients at Kalaupapa. She had originally responded to a request for help from King David Kalakaua.
According to Sister Alicia Damien Lau, when she arrived in Hawaii from Syracuse, New York, Mother Marianne told the king, "I come with nothing to bring you but my service to take care of your poor and disadvantaged people, but I hold in my heart their lives."
The announcement from the Vatican touched was welcome news to Hawaii's Catholic hierarchy.
"I was very excited, and also somewhat relieved that it's not any earlier in the year, because there's a lot of planning that needs to be done, said Rev. Gary Secor, vicar general of the Diocese of Honolulu. "But we're very excited that this is occurring."
Eight Hansen's Disease patients from Kalaupapa are among those planning to make the trip to Rome for the canonization ceremony. "Officially we took 546 people to Damien," said Randy King of Seawind Tours and Travel, which is booking travel groups for the event. "We know there's at least 32 of us, because that's already the group that's traveling."
In 2005, the church declared Mother Marianne "blessed," one step before sainthood. Last year, as the push continued to have her declared a saint, a relic of Mother Marianne -- some of her bone fragments -- was brought to Hawaii. among those who prayed before her remains were her fellow sisters of Saint Francis, who still minister to patients at Kalaupapa. They are joyful that she will become St. Marianne Cope.
"She was a model for all, with her humility in doing good works for God alone, and with comforting presence for the suffering, as a sign of God's love for them," said Sister Davelyn Ah Chick.
"If it weren't for the patients at Kalaupapa, whom we continuously work with on a daily basis, Kalaupapa would not have been, Kalawao would not have been," said Sister Alicia.
Mother Marianne took over the running of Father Damien's home for boys at Kalawao when he died in 1889. She eventually herself died at Kalaupapa in 1918 from natural causes. Now, she will become the eleventh American saint, and the second saint with Hawaii ties.