WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 29, 2012) — U.S. Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (HI-2) on Thursday introduced a House Resolution to honor Mother Marianne Cope for her life’s legacy of compassionate care and dedication to those she served at the Hansen’s disease settlement at Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai.
Hirono was joined by fellow Hawai‘i Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1), and New York Republican Congressman Richard Hanna (NY-24) and Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25).
“Even at a time when partisan disagreements too often dominate our headlines, it’s heartening that Democrats and Republicans can come together and agree that Saint Marianne’s remarkable life of service should be honored,” Hirono said. “I welcome and am grateful for the support from my colleagues across the aisle.”
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. Catholics from Hawaii and across the country traveled to the Vatican to witness the historic event. She 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,” Hirono said.
Hansen’s disease, which is also known as leprosy, damaged the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes of those with the disease before a cure was discovered. Native Hawaiians, who largely lacked immunity to the disease, were disproportionately affected. 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 Hawai‘i,” Hirono said. “At a time when Hansen’s patients were shunned and exiled, she courageously opened her arms in the name of human dignity and compassion. 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.”
Mother Marianne died in 1918 at the age of 80 of natural causes at the St. Elizabeth Convent at Kalaupapa. She was buried on the grounds of Bishop Home.
To watch Congresswoman Hirono introduce the resolution on the House floor, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDWuKbJ9fwc&feature=youtu.be.>