Mother Marianne Cope, who came to Hawaii more than 100 years ago to care for leprosy patients, is now a saint.
Thousands of Catholic faithful and spectators, including those from Hawaii, gathered in a sunny St. Peter's Square this morning in Vatican City (around 9:30 p.m. Saturday HST) for the canonization of Cope and six others.
Flags of the countries from where the new saints were from could be seen in the crowd, including an American flag. A small cheer could be heard from the crowd when a clergy member read Cope's name as one of those who will become a saint. Large images of each of the new seven saints were hung outside St. Peter's Basilica. One relic placed on a pedestal near the main altar had at least one lei draped on it. It was not clearly confirmed if this relic was that of Cope.
Approximately 225 Hawaii residents, including some from Kalaupapa and Maui, witnessed the canonization of Cope in Rome.
Nine leprosy patients from Kalaupapa made the trip to Italy, the second time for them in three years, as they also flew to Rome to see Father Damien, a Belgian priest who also worked tirelessly with leprosy patients in Kalaupapa, canonized in 2009.
Along with the patients, members of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities from Hawaii, including those from Kalaupapa, also attended today's service. Cope was from that community.
Among the others canonized today is Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th-century Mohawk Indian who spent most of her life in what is now upstate New York.
The canonization of the two women brought the number of American saints recognized by the Catholic Church to 12. For more on this story, see Monday's edition of The Maui News.