HONOLULU (AP) — A white hearse pulled up to the entrance of a downtown Honolulu cathedral Thursday, carrying the remains of a saint known for caring for exiled leprosy patients in the 1880s.
A metal box containing the remains of St. Marianne Cope was carried into the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace for what was a cross between a funeral Mass and a homecoming ceremony.
She was 80 when she died of natural causes in 1918 at the remote Kalaupapa peninsula on the island of Molokai, where leprosy patients were exiled. Her remains were exhumed from Kalaupapa in 2005 and taken to Syracuse, New York, where her religious congregation is based.
Born Barbara Koob in Germany, she immigrated with her family to Utica, New York, when she was a year old. In 1883, the nun accepted a mission to care for leprosy patients in Hawaii.
She gained sainthood in 2012 after the Vatican authenticated two miracles that were a result of her intercession.
Relocation from New York was necessary because the buildings of the campus where her remains were housed are no longer structurally sound, requiring the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities to move to another part of Syracuse.
St. Francis sisters carried the box into the cathedral atop a carrier made out of koa wood in the shape of a canoe.
It makes sense to keep her remains in Honolulu, as opposed to Kalaupapa, which can be accessed only via plane or mule, said Bishop Larry Silva of the Honolulu diocese.
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