Saint Marianne Cope

Saint Marianne Cope in 1918Also known as

  • Barbara Cope
  • Barbara Koob
  • Maria Anna Barbara Cope
  • Mother Marianne
  • Sister Marianne



Born to a poor working class family, one of eight children. Came to the United States when her parents emigrated in 1840, and she grew up in the Utica, New York area. Left school after the eight grade to work in a factory for nine years and help raise her younger siblings. Joined the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York in 1862, taking the name Sister Marianne, and making her vows in 1863. Teacher. Superior of a convent. Member of the council that governed her community. Supervisor of Saint Joseph’s Hospital in 1870; it was the only hospital in Syracuse, and cared for the sick regardless of race or religion, a rarity in the day. Directress of novices. Provincial Superior of her community in 1877. In November 1883 she and six of her sister Franciscans went to Honolulu, Hawaii to care for lepers. Mother Marianne had planned to stay a few weeks, help establish the facilities, and then return to Syracuse; she spent 35 years there and only returned when her remains were moved in 2005 as part of her beatification preparations. They completely revamped the conditions of the patients, vastly improving their housing and care. In 1885 she founded a home for the daughters of patients who lived in the colony. In November 1888 she and two sisters founded a home and school for girls on Molokai. In 1895 she took over the boy‘s home that had been founded by Blessed Damien de Veuster. In her later years she was confined to a wheelchair due to chronic kidney disease.







I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in eighteen thirty-eight in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in eighteen sixty-two she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York. Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused. She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers. Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world. There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis. Pope Benedict XVI‘s canonization homily for Saint Marianne

To the Reverend Sister Marianne, Matron of the Bishop Home, Kalaupapa.

To see the infinite pity of this place,
The mangled limb, the devastated face,
The innocent sufferers smiling at the rod,
A fool were tempted to deny his God.
He sees, and shrinks; but if he look again,
Lo, beauty springing from the breasts of pain!
He marks the sisters on the painful shores,
And even a fool is silent and adores.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

When Mother Marianne made her famous statement that she was hungry for the work, it was not because she needed more to do. It was because she knew that her own deep hunger pangs for the true bread of life would be better satisfied if she met the Eucharistic Lord in those she fed, in those she clothed, in those she nursed, and in those least of the least whom she set free from a prison of self-pity, no matter how justified it might be. – Bishop Larry Silva

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Marianne Cope“. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 May 2020. Web. 16 May 2021. <>