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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Hawai'i nun a step closer to sainthood

By Mary Kaye Ritz
Advertiser Religion & Ethics Writer

Mother Marianne Cope, a Roman Catholic nun who worked with Hansen's disease patients in Hawai'i in the late 1800s, moved one step closer to sainthood yesterday when the Vatican approved an official designation of "venerable" for her.

The next step in Mother Marianne Cope's sainthood process is to be beatified.
"It's a big day because the pope signed it," said Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, director of the nun's canonization cause at the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis headquarters in Syracuse, N.Y. "It happened so suddenly, we could not attend."

The news was greeted happily at the religious order's convent on Liliha Street in Honolulu, renamed for Mother Marianne about a decade ago and now home to a half-dozen nuns who work at the St. Francis Medical Center and its hospice.

"We're very excited," said the convent's Sister Rose Fatima Leite. "We've been waiting for this."

The next step in Mother Marianne's sainthood process is to be beatified, or declared "blessed," which requires documentation of a miracle.

She arrived in Hawai'i in 1883 to help the children of patients who had Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy, in what was then called Hawai'i's "national affliction." She cared for patients at the Kaka'ako Branch Hospital on O'ahu for five years, then volunteered to supervise a new home for girls on Moloka'i at Kalaupapa. She lived at Kalaupapa for the last five months in the life of missionary Father Damien de Veuster, a Belgian priest who is also up for sainthood.

After establishing a women's home there, she stayed in Hawai'i until her death in 1918 at age 80.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Mary Kaye Ritz at mritz@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8035.