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Resolution Honoring Mother Marianne of Molokai

November 29, 2012, 11:04 AM HST · Updated November 29, 1:03 PM
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Congresswoman Hirono visits Mother Marianne’s gravesite in Kalaupapa, where she left ho`okupu, a traditional Hawaiian offering. Courtesy photo.

By Wendy Osher

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono today joined three fellow representatives in introducing a House resolution honoring Mother Marianne Cope of Molokai.

The resolution honors Mother Marianne for her life legacy of compassionate care and dedication to the Hansen’s disease patients she served in the remote Kalaupapa settlement.

Mother Marianne was canonized as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church on Oct. 21, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.

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Catholics from Hawai’i were among those that traveled to the Vatican to witness the historic event.

Mother Marianne joins Saint Damien of Kalaupapa among the 12 American Catholic saints.

“Mother Marianne Cope dedicated herself to a lifetime of selfless service. Her tireless compassion directly improved the lives of the suffering and forgotten,” said Rep. Hirono.

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Hansen’s disease damaged the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes of those afflicted, before a cure was discovered.  Native Hawaiians, who largely lacked immunity to the disease, were disproportionately affected, according to Rep. Hirono.

Those with the disease were forcibly exiled by the government beginning in the mid-19th century to the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula on Molokai. Mother Marianne’s Sisters of St. Francis and other religious communities were often the only ones who would care for the physical and spiritual needs of the Hansen’s patients.

“Mother Marianne’s incredible legacy will forever be connected with the history of Hawaii. At a time when Hansen’s patients were shunned and exiled, she courageously opened her arms in the name of human dignity and compassion,” said Rep. Hirono.

“She serves as a shining example and inspiration to us to be of service to others. In Mother Marianne, her service was of such extraordinary depth, leading to her canonization and the recognition and honor she deserves, but never sought,” she said.

Mother Marianne died at the age of 80 of natural causes at the St. Elizabeth Convent at Kalaupapa and was buried on the grounds of Bishop Home in 1918.

Rep. Hirono was joined by Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, Representatives Richard Hanna and Ann Marie Buerkle, both of New York, in introducing the resolution.

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