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Column for 2.22.12
Because my predictions are so seldom correct, I feel the need to brag whenever I do get one right, and I was on target about Mother Marianne.
Back in the 1980s and ‘90s, I wrote more than one newspaper column stating that one day the Catholic Church would make Mother Marianne a saint.
And so she will. It was announced this past Saturday, February 18th, that Mother Marianne will become Saint Marianne during a Vatican ceremony on Oct. 21st.
For those not familiar with Mother Marianne, here is a brief sketch: Born as Barbara Cope in Germany, she came to Utica with her family in 1839. She was two years old.
Barbara Cope was raised on Schuyler Street on the west side of Utica. She left school after the eighth grade and took a job in the Utica Steam Woolen Mill, across the street from her house.
Barbara Cope became Sister Marianne when she entered the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse at age 25. One thing that may have drawn her to the religious life was that the Sisters of Saint Francis often came to her Schuyler Street home to care for Barbara’s sick father.
Sister Marianne taught school and worked in hospitals in Utica, Rome, Oswego and Syracuse. In fact, she helped found St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica and was in charge of St. Joseph’s in Syracuse.
But her real mark was made starting in 1883 when she answered an urgent call for help from the Hawaiian government and went to the leper colony on island of Molokai. She and two other Franciscans cared for the lepers, washed them, dressed their sores, made their beds, prepared their medicines, cooked their food and administered to their religious needs.
Mother Marianne never left Molokai or the lepers. She died there in 1918 at the age of 80.
By the way, a shrine dedicated to Mother Marianne has been erected at St. Joseph & St. Patrick Church, 702 Columbia St. in Utica. St. Joseph’s was where young Barbara Cope went to church. The church also has a soup kitchen named in her honor.
Getting back to predictions, my prediction of Mother Marianne’s canonization made so long ago sounded impressive until I discovered that Dr. T. Wood Clarke, one of the best historians Oneida County ever had, made the same prediction but nearly six decades before me. While addressing the Oneida County Historical Society, of which he was president, Dr. Clarke said this about Mother Marianne:
“This woman will undoubtedly someday be canonized by the Catholic Church and enrolled among the greatest of its saints.”
Speaking of predictions, Mother Marianne also made one. She predicted that if proper hygiene practices were followed, none of the Franciscans working on Molokai would ever get leprosy. None of them ever have.
Mother Marianne will be only the 11th American to become a saint, which is incredible. But what makes all this even more incredible is that another woman from the United States and from just down the Thruway in Auriesville, in Montgomery County, will also become a saint, the first Native American saint, and at the same Oct. 21st ceremony as Mother Marianne.
I don’t know of anybody who could have ever predicted all this.
Kateri Tekakwitha was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. More on this future saint in a future column.
Today, I will make one more prediction. The Auriesville Shrine, a memorial to Kateri and three martyred Jesuits, and the nearby National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine on Route 5 near Fonda, are both about to become much busier places, as is the shrine at St. Joseph’s & St. Patrick’s Church in Utica.