Hundreds attend Mass for saint's return to Hawaii


FILE - In this 1883 file photo provided by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, Mother Marianne Cope, a nun who dedicated her life to caring for exiled leprosy patients on Kalaupapa in Hawaii, poses for a photographer. St. Marianne Cope's remains will arrive in a hearse Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in downtown Honolulu for a ceremony. The remains will be kept in a cabinet in the cathedral. (AP Photo/Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, File) | Zoom
More Photos

See all photos

HONOLULU (AP) -- A white hearse pulled up to the entrance of a downtown Honolulu cathedral Thursday, carrying the remains of a saint known for caring for exiled leprosy patients in the 1880s.

A metal box containing the remains of St. Marianne Cope was carried into the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace for what was a cross between a funeral Mass and a homecoming ceremony.

She was 80 when she died of natural causes in 1918 at the remote Kalaupapa peninsula on the island of Molokai, where leprosy patients were exiled. Her remains were exhumed from Kalaupapa in 2005 and taken to Syracuse, New York, where her religious congregation is based.

Born Barbara Koob in Germany, she immigrated with her family to Utica, New York, when she was a year old. In 1883, the nun accepted a mission to care for leprosy patients in Hawaii.

She gained sainthood in 2012 after the Vatican authenticated two miracles that were a result of her intercession.

Relocation from New York was necessary because the buildings of the campus where her remains were housed are no longer structurally sound, requiring the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities to move to another part of Syracuse.

St. Francis sisters carried the box into the cathedral atop a carrier made out of koa wood in the shape of a canoe.

It makes sense to keep her remains in Honolulu, as opposed to Kalaupapa, which can be accessed only via plane or mule, said Bishop Larry Silva of the Honolulu diocese.

Hundreds packed into the cathedral, where people lined up for a chance to kiss the box, wrapped in a Hawaiian funerary cloth and draped with lei and a quilt bearing a Hawaiian flag design.

"The mortal remains of this frail creature of God...have an incredible spirit of their own, an aura that makes us want to be near them, to be changed by the very odor of holiness that emanates from them," Silva said in his homily. "We want to touch the relics of this woman who dedicated herself to healing, so that we may be healed and may be healers."

The remains -- a full collection of her bones -- arrived Sunday in a casket aboard a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, said diocese spokesman Patrick Downes.

After Thursday's Mass, diocese officials planned to place the sealed zinc-coated metal box containing the bones upright in a koa and glass cabinet in the cathedral. The display cabinet already contained her relic, a small box of bone fragments a nun brought to Honolulu in 2011. The relic was taken on a tour of the Hawaiian islands.

The diocese plans to build a chapel at the 170-year-old cathedral where her remains will be entombed underground, said Alika Cullen, cathedral general administrator.

__

Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/JenHapa.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Top Stories

  • Racial Divide?
    A report some Seahawks think Russell Wilson isn't 'black enough' stirs strong reactions

  • Strippers Win
    A judge blocks Pierce County from releasing licenses and IDs of strippers

  • Gun Rights
    Background checks and gun rights take center stage at KTTH debate
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.