ROME, ITALY (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been a long road, but in just a few hours the 225 pilgrims who traveled from Hawaii for a historic event at the Vatican will watch as Blessed Marianne of Molokai becomes a Saint.
Seven blesseds will be elevated to saints at the Vatican on Sunday morning, or Saturday night in Hawaii. Seven is one of the larger numbers in recent years, but Mother Marianne's canonization is notable because she was the first person beatified by Pope Benedict.
On the eve of the canonization, Hawaii pilgrims gathered for one final mass at the Mother Church for Roman Catholics, St. John Lateran.
It's the very place St. Francis came to ask for permission to start his own order, and paved the way for future Franciscan sisters like Mother Marianne to minister to diseased outcasts.
It's also the Pope's own Church.
Pope Benedict XVI will officially make Blessed Marianne and six others saints at the start of mass tomorrow morning in St. Peter's Square in order to emphasize the significance of sainthood.
When Father Damien was canonized back in 2009, it came midway through the mass.
"That was a great experience obviously, but this is a lot more personal," said Dr. Paul DeMare, the Medical Director at St. Francis.
DeMare, who is Mother Marianne's great grand nephew, will receive communion from the Pope during the mass.
Pauline Chow, one of the nine returning Hansen's disease patients who was at the Vatican in 2009, was also chosen to get communion.
"Just the anticipation was tiring enough, but I guess it's just about over," said Chow. "She's finally a Saint."
Sharon Smith of New York will also play a special part in the ceremony. Her survival from untreatable pancreatitis thanks to the intercession of Blessed Marianne was the second miracle needed to achieve Sainthood.
Smith will present a relic to Pope Benedict.
"I'm happy to be the vessel for Mother Marianne, and I'm very happy for the Franciscan sisters," said Smith.
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