For the better part of 30 years, Mother Marianne Cope cared for the victims of Hansen's disease at Kalaupapa.
She succeeded Father Damien de Veuster as head of that community and chief caregiver. On Oct. 21 in Rome, she will join Father Damien in sainthood.
As stories the past week in The Maui News have documented, Mother Marianne was already a successful hospital administrator in Syracuse, N.Y., when she answered the call to come to Hawaii to help care for Hansen's patients. She arrived in Honolulu in 1883, then moved to Kalaupapa in 1888 where she spent the rest of her life in service to the residents.
She was beatified in 2005 and became Blessed Marianne. The Vatican now has certified two instances of miraculous intervention in serious illnesses since her death and she will move on to be a saint.
On Friday, Hawaii Bishop Larry Silva will lead a delegation of more than 100 on a long journey to Rome for the canonization. They will first stop in Syracuse for a couple of Masses and will visit Utica to see a shrine and museum dedicated to Mother Marianne.
On Oct. 15, the group will travel to Rome to witness her canonization at St. Peter's Basilica at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 21. (Because of the time difference, the ceremony will take place at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 here - it will be broadcast live on EWTN, the global Catholic network.)
The story of Hansen's disease and the isolation of its victims at Kalaupapa is a sad one. Yet, as the articles have shown, a spirit lives on there in its residents and that spirit gave rise to not one, but two saints.
In a strange way, that almost seems to give Kalaupapa's story a happy ending.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.