Two Americans have joined the ranks of Catholic saints. Yesterday Pope Benedict canonized Kateri Tekakwitha and Mother Marianne Cope.
Of Mother Marianne, CNN reports this:
On the island, Father Damien DeVeuster, whom the Catholic Church named a saint in 2009, had established a medical facility known as the Apostle of the Lepers. By the time Mother Marianne arrived, he was dying from Hansen's disease.At his request, she told him she would care for his patients. Upon his death, she took over his facility that cared for men and boys and established a separate enterprise to treat girls and women. Saint Damien of Molokai's patients had been living in rudimentary huts. They dressed in rags. Mother Marianne wanted to improve their lives.She raised money and started programs that gave the ill population a much more dignified life. She set up classes for patients. She worked to beautify the environment with gardens and landscaping. Patients got proper clothes, music and religious counseling. She couldn't cure them, but she could make their lives better.Mother Marianne died on August 9, 1918, at the age of 80. Incredibly, to this day none of the Franciscan sisters have ever contracted Hansen's disease.
As we attempted to study church history through videos last summer, we watched Molokai: The Story of Father Damien. It briefly covers the work of Mother, now Saint, Marianne and her sisters.
Today I offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the many, many sisters I have known and worked with. The vast majority will never be canonized, but their unselfish devotion to the forgotten continues.