The feast day of St. Marianne Cope is celebrated on Jan. 23. St. Marianne Cope was the first Franciscan woman from North America to become a saint. St. Marianne Cope is the patron saint of outcasts.
The birth name of St. Marianne Cope was Barbara Koob (now officially Cope) She was born on Jan 23, 1838 in SE Hessen, West Germany. She was one of ten children. Her father was a farmer. The family moved to the United States one year after her birth.
Her vocation to the religious life was delayed by the necessity to support her family when her father became ill. At the age of 25, Barbara entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, New York. She received her religious habit and the name of Sister Marianne. She served as a teacher and principal in several elementary schools in New York. She also helped establish two of the first hospitals in central NY. In 1870, she became a nurse administrator at St. Joseph’s in Syracuse, NY.
In 1882, a priest requested help managing hospitals and schools in Hawaii; primarily working with leprosy patients. She responded to his letter with the following words.
“I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones, whose privilege it will be to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders…I am not afraid of any disease, hence, It would be my greatest delight to minister to the abandoned lepers.”
Along with six other sisters of St. Francis, she arrived in Honolulu in Nov. 1833. Mother Marianne was the supervisor as they managed Kakóako Branch Hospital on Oahu which treated 200 leprosy patients. They began by thoroughly cleaning the hospital. They also opened a home for the healthy daughters of the patients who were ill. Mother Marianne met Fr. Damien (now St. Damien…the Apostle to Lepers) in January 1884 while he was still healthy.
In 1887 the new government in charge of Hawaii closed the Hospital. In 1888, she went to Kalaupapa several months before the death of St. Damien. She reassured him she would provide care for the patients at the Boy’s Home at Kalawao on the Island of Molokai. Three Sisters ran the Bishop Home for boys and girls.
Mother Marianne died in Hawaii of natural cause on August 9, 1918 and is buried on the grounds of Bishop Home. The Saint Marianne Cope Shrine and Museum was built to honor her memory.
Mother Marianne was beatified on May 14, 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI. St. Marianne Cope was canonized on Oct 21, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.
“I am not thinking of reward. I am working for God and do so cheerfully.“
Quote of St. Marianne Cope
January is the Month of the Holy Name