A German-American nun will become a saint Sunday, nearly a century after her death. Mother Marianne Cope is the second person to be honored in this way for caring for people in Hawaii with leprosy, now known as Hansen’s disease.
During a tragic era in Hawaiian history, more than 8,000 people with leprosy were banished to Kalaupapa, a remote peninsula on the island of Molokai. Back then, there was no cure. The patients were treated as outcasts until a Belgian priest, Father Damien, came to care for them in 1873. Eventually he contracted the disease himself and died. He was canonized by the pope in 2009.
Just five months before Damien’s death, Cope arrived in Kalaupapa. She worked in Hawaii in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Sister Alicia Damien Lau says Cope risked her life to care for people with leprosy.