Saint Marianne Cope


Saint Marianne Cope, 1838-1918

January 23

Born Maria Anna Barbara Cope in Germany in 1838, Mother Marianne came to the United States with her family when she was one year old. The family settled in Utica, New York, where Marianne’s father worked as a laborer. After a brief education, Marianne began working to support her family.

She joined the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse in 1862 and became the supervisor of St. Joseph’s Hospital, the only hospital in Syracuse. She made it a hospital policy to care for the sick, regardless of race or religion.

But Marianne was called to another work in 1883. At the time, the island kingdom of Hawaii was suffering an epidemic of leprosy. Victims were exiled to the northern portion of the island of Molokai. Marianne and six of her Franciscans made the long journey to Hawaii.

At the time, a Belgian priest, Saint Damien de Veuster, was ministering to the lepers in the Molokai colony. Mother Marianne resolved to go there and help him. By the time they met, Father Damien had already contracted leprosy from his work. After Father Damien’s death, Mother Marianne took charge of the colony, attempting to improve living conditions for all.

By the time of her death in 1918, Mother Marianne’s record of deeds were well documented. Her beatification in 2005 was the first of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. She was later canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012. 

Discuss: Saint Marianne Cope risked her own life to care for the poor and sick. Tell about a time that you made a sacrifice in order to help the poor or sick.


Encourage the young people to find out more about Hawaii. Be sure to share with them the following:

  • Hawaii was discovered by Polynesian explorers between 300 and 750.
  • Hawaii was renamed the Sandwich Islands in 1778 by British explorer James Cook after the British nobleman the Earl of Sandwich.
  • Hawaii was united with all the Hawaiian islands into one kingdom in 1810 by King Kamehameha.
  • The first Roman Catholic missionaries arrived in 1826.
  • Hawaii was annexed to the United States in 1898.
  • Hawaii is home to 230,000 Catholics.