Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Blessed Mother Marianne Cope

Though Barbara Koob was born in Germany in the year 1838, she did not live the rest of her life in her native country as her parents migrated to America in the hope of finding a better life for them all. The family settled in New York a bustling conglomerate of different migrants who like the Koob family hoped to live more prosperous lives in the land of the free. In order for the family to fit into their new country Barbara's parents changed their name from the German Koob to a more Anglicized Cope.

Barbara belonged to a large and loving family consisting of nine other siblings which kept the young girl busy as she helped out her mother in raising them, it also stalled her own plans of entering the Religious life. Once her siblings had reached maturity only then did Barbara follow her calling to live as a Religious and serve God.

At the age of 24 in the year 1862 Barbara entered the Order of the Sisters of St. Francis, upon receiving her habit she changed her name to Sister Marianne. When she made her religious Vows she began her work as a Sister by teaching in elementary schools, the years spent helping her mother with her younger siblings would prove invaluable.

As in many cases though Sister Marianne's life would take another turn as her skills were directed towards nursing and administration, but deep in her heart Marianne had a deep love for people which was shown by her compassionate nature towards all.

Like many Saints before her Sister Marianne became well known for her common sense attitude towards solving problems her approachable demeanor and gentle personality was loved by all. Once again though Sister Marianne's life would take yet another turn when she received a letter from a Priest requesting help in the Hawaiian Islands.

Mother Marianne along with some fellow Sisters set sail for Honolulu in 1883 where they would work as missionaries. Upon arriving both Mother Marianne and her Sisters were shocked at the deplorable state of the unhygienic hospitals, being very practical by nature Mother Marianne soon got to work and cleaned up the hospital used by those suffering with leprosy, a most dreaded and stigmatized disease.

The suffering of the lepers touched a deep chord in the heart of Mother Marianne but not only for the lepers but the family members who visited these diseased ravaged victims. This most compassionate of women then set about with her other Sisters to build a home for the children of the diseased lepers so that they too may be safe while at the same time stay in the vicinity of their ill parents.

Leprosy in those days was considered by some to be a punishment from God, Mother Marianne tried to counter act this terrible ignorance and the real fear that many had towards the lepers by educating those around her, while displaying a fearless courage in the knowledge that she too could catch this dreaded disease.

Nothing deterred this most wonderful woman, and upon learning that Fr. Damien had also contracted leprosy, Mother Marianne received him into her loving hospital community. Though this remarkable woman was fearless when confronting this disease not everyone had the same courage and upon a change in Government it was decided by the Governing body to exile the lepers to another colony. This was deeply disturbing to Mother Marianne but nonetheless she took up the challenge and went to serve and live amidst her loving community of leper victims, on the island of Molokai.

When Mother Marianne arrived it soon became evident that Fr. Damien did not have long to live and with her loving and compassionate heart she nursed this remarkable Priest while assuring him that his home for the boys would continue under her supervision. This quieted the ravaged body of Fr. Damien and he died peacefully a few months after Mother Marianne's arrival. Many lepers came to love Mother Marianne for her continual spirit of joy and compassion, she never made them feel unclean or unsightly. Her unfailing good spirits helped raise the spirits of all those around her, including her exhausted fellow Sisters.

Mother Marianne was to serve her community for the rest of her life, and unlike Fr. Damien she did not contract this dreaded illness but died of natural causes.

Mother Marianne Cope died in 1918.

Blessed Mother Marianne Cope was Beatified in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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