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St. Damian and Bl. Marianne Cope

Two weeks ago, at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, a three-foot statue of St. Damian of Molokai was blessed by Bishop Clarence Silva of Honolulu, Hawaii, while he was in Rome for his ad limina visit. A second copy, blessed by Pope Benedict XVI, will become part of the Vatican collections. The artist, Dale Zarrella, said that the sculpture portrays Saint Damian “surveying all the pain and suffering.” At his side is a child whose face is covered by a blanket, hiding the disfigurement caused by leprosy.

This is an exciting time for Hawaii. On October 21, 2012,  Bl. Marianne Cope will be canonized. As superior of the  Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, New York, Bl. Marianne was the only one who responded to the King of Hawaii’s appeal for sisters to come and help the leprosy patients. Neither she nor any of the other sisters ever contracted the dreaded disease.

In 1885, King Kalakaua gave her a medal in gratitude for the work she had done for the islanders. Robert Louis Stevenson honored her with a poetic tribute in 1889. After her death, her leprosy patients themselves raised money to erect a fitting statue in her honor over her burial place