St. Marianne Cope, Patron Saint of Outcasts
January 23 is the feast of St. Marianne Cope (1838-1918), a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, who was canonized Oct. 21, 2012. She is the first Franciscan woman from North American to be canonized, and only the 11th American saint. St. Marianne Cope is the patroness of lepers, outcasts, those with HIV/AIDS, and Hawaii.
She was one of ten children born to a German farm family who immigrated to upstate New York. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis at the age of twenty-four and the following year made her religious profession. She served as a teacher and principal in several elementary schools in New York State, a task which she had intended to do for the rest of her life, but God had other plans, At the age of 32, she began a new ministry as a nurse-administrator at St Joseph’s in Syracuse, N.Y., where she served as head administrator for six years.
In 1877, she was elected Mother Provincal, when she received a request from the Sandwich Islands to send sisters to care for the sick. At the age of forty-six, Mother Marianne traveled to Hawaii with six other Franciscan Sisters, to serve those suffering from leprosy. Their immediate task was to manage the Kakaako Receiving Station outside Honolulu and they made major improvements to the living conditions and treatment of the patients there. They also opened a hospital and a school for girls. Mother Marianne ran the Bishop Home, and until 1895, managed the Home for Boys at Kalawao, founded by Father Damien for boys and young men.
She died in 1918 at the age of 80 and was buried on the grounds of Bishop Home. Her remains were returned to Syracuse in 2005. She was beatified in 2005 and canonized just seven years later.
A woman of great charity, compassion, and courage, this beloved mother of outcasts, devoted 35 years to caring for those afflicted with Hansen’s disease on Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii.
Prayer to St. Marianne Cope
Lord Jesus, you who gave us your commandment of love of God and neighbor, and identified yourself in a special way with the most needy of your people, hear our prayer. Faithful to your teaching, St. Marianne Cope loved and served her neighbor, especially the most desolate outcast, giving herself generously and heroically for those afflicted by leprosy. She alleviated their physical and spiritual sufferings, thus helping them to accept their afflictions with patience. Her care and concern for others manifested the great love you have for us. Through her merits and intercession, grant us the favor which we confidently ask of you so that the people of God, following the inspiration of her life and apostolate, may practice charity towards all according to your word and example. Amen.
Through the intercession of St. Marianne Cope, I ask for the grace of (mention your request).