- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 14, 2005

VATICAN CITY — A German-born nun who cared for leprosy patients on a Hawaiian island and a Spanish nun who started a missionary society were beatified yesterday in St. Peter’s Basilica in a ceremony led by a top Vatican cardinal representing Pope Benedict XVI.

Benedict’s decision not to preside over the ceremony marks a shift from Pope John Paul II, who beatified and canonized more faithful than all his predecessors over the past 500 years combined. John Paul, weather permitting, would hold his saint-making ceremonies in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday mornings to encourage huge turnouts.

Benedict designated Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins to lead the beatification ceremony marking the last formal step before possible sainthood. The cardinal heads the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

Mother Marianne Cope, who was born in Germany and raised in New York, went to Hawaii in 1883 as a Franciscan nun to work with leprosy patients. She died in 1918 at age 80. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of “Treasure Island,” wrote a poem in tribute to her.

Honored with her yesterday was the co-founder of a missionary society in Spain, Ascensione del Cuore di Gesu. Born Ascension Nicol Goni in Tafalla-Navarra, Spain, in 1868, she helped establish the Dominican Missionary Nuns of the Rosary and died in 1940.

The cardinal praised her as “one of the greatest missionaries of the past century.”

Mother Marianne was born Barbara Koob in Germany in 1838. The following year, her family emigrated to upstate New York and became American citizens. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1862.

In 1883, Mother Marianne and six other Franciscan sisters volunteered to work at the Kalaupapa settlement on Molokai with leprosy patients alongside the Belgian missionary Father Damien DeVeuster, who was beatified by John Paul in 1995. She left a legacy of schools and orphanages, and the Sisters of St. Francis have cared for leprosy patients on Molokai since then.

Today, about three dozen leprosy — or Hansen’s disease — patients still live there.

Formally asking for Mother Marianne’s beatification was Syracuse Bishop James Moynihan.

To be beatified, a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession after death must be approved by the pontiff. In December, John Paul approved the healing of a Syracuse teenager who had suffered multiple organ failure. The girl had recovered after she was touched by a relic of Mother Marianne.

Before canonization, or sainthood, is conferred, another miracle, happening after beatification, must be certified by the Vatican.

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