By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI advanced the sainthood causes of Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
He also formally recognized the martyrdom of 64 victims of the Spanish Civil War and advanced the causes of 18 other men and women.
During a meeting Dec. 19 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the pope signed the decrees recognizing the miracles needed for the canonizations of Blesseds Marianne and Kateri.
Before a date is set for the canonization ceremonies, there must be an “ordinary public consistory,” a formal ceremony opened and closed with prayer, during which cardinals present in Rome express their support for the pope’s decision to create new saints.
Blessed Marianne, who worked as a teacher and hospital administrator in New York, spent the last 30 years of her life ministering on the Hawaiian island of Molokai to those with leprosy. She died on the island in 1918 at age 80 and was beatified in St. Peter’s Basilica in 2005.
Blessed Kateri, known as the Lily of the Mohawks, was born to a Christian Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father in 1656 in upstate New York along the Hudson River. She was baptized by a Jesuit missionary in 1676 when she was 20, and she died in Canada four years later. In June 1980, she became the first Native American to be beatified.
Pope Benedict also recognized miracles attributed to the intercession of five other people, who now can be declared saints. They are:
— Blessed Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian priest who founded the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth for men and the Humble Servants of the Lord for women. He died in 1913.
— Blessed Jacques Berthieu, a French Jesuit priest who was martyred in Madagascar in 1896.
— Blessed Carmen Salles y Barangueras, the Spanish founder of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. She worked with disadvantaged girls and prostitutes and saw that early education was essential for helping young women. She died in 1911.
— Blessed Peter Calungsod, a lay Catholic from Cebu, Philippines, who accompanied Jesuit missionaries to Guam as a catechist and was martyred there in 1672 while he was in his late teens.
— Blessed Anna Schaffer, a lay German woman who wanted to be a missionary, but couldn’t do so after a succession of physical accidents and disease. She accepted her infirmity as a way of sanctification. Her grave has been a pilgrimage site since her death in 1925.
Pope Benedict also signed decrees that pave the way for numerous beatifications:
— He recognized the martyrdom of 64 priests, religious and a layman, Jose Gorostazu Labayen, who were martyred between 1936 and 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.
— He recognized the martyrdom of Father Nicolaus Rusca, a Swiss priest who was tortured and killed after being condemned by a Protestant court in 1618.
— He formally recognized the miracle needed for the beatification of Father Louis Brisson, the French founder of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.
— He formally recognized the miracle needed for the beatification of Italian Father Luigi Novarese, an official at the Vatican Secretariat of State and founder of the Silent Workers of the Cross Association.
— He formally recognized the miracle needed for the beatification of Mother Maria Mole, the French founder of the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis.
— He formally recognized the miracles needed for the beatifications of two nuns, one from Argentina and one from Italy.
The pope approved seven other decrees recognizing that the men and women lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way and that they are venerable. Recognition of a miracle attributed to each candidate’s intercession is needed for that person’s beatification.
‘Lily of the Mohawks’ came to know, love Christ over clan’s objections
By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, “the Lily of the Mohawks,” is the young Indian maiden who, despite objections from some in her own clan, came to know and love Christ.
She was born in 1656 in a village on the Mohawk River called Ossernenon, now Auriesville, N.Y. Her father was a Mohawk chief and her mother a Christian Algonquin raised among the French.
She was born into a period of political and religious turmoil, 10 years after three of the Jesuit martyrs were tortured and killed: Rene Goupil, Isaac Jogues and Jean Lalande. Indians blamed the “Blackrobes” for the sudden appearance of deadly white man’s diseases, including small pox.
When Kateri was only 4, a smallpox epidemic claimed her parents and baby brother. Kateri survived, but her face was disfigured and her eyesight impaired.
According to legend, she was raised by relatives who began to plan her marriage. But after meeting with Catholic priests, Kateri decided to be baptized and pursue religious life. When she was baptized on Easter in 1676 at age 20, her relatives were not pleased.
She fled the next year to Canada, taking refuge at St. Francis Xavier Mission in the Mohawk Nation at Caughnawaga on the St. Lawrence River, about 10 miles from Montreal. She reportedly made her first Communion on Christmas in 1677.
She astounded the Jesuits with her deep spirituality and her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She took a private vow of virginity and devoted herself to prayer and to teaching prayers to the children and helping the sick and elderly of Caughnawaga.
Kateri was not the only member of her community to embrace Christianity during a colonial time fraught with conflict and struggle for native tribes. But to her older, more educated Jesuit mentors, she was remarkable.
When her request to start a religious community was denied, Kateri continued to live a life of austerity and prayer. She was said to perform “extraordinary penances.”
She died in 1680 at the age of 24. According to eyewitnesses, including two Jesuits and many Indians, the scars on her face suddenly disappeared after her death. Her tomb is in Caughnawaga. There is a shrine to her in St. Francis Xavier Church there.
Soon after Blessed Kateri died, Catholics started to claim that favors and miracles had been obtained through her intercession. American Indians have made appeals to the Catholic Church for her recognition since at least the late 1800s.
Documentation for her sainthood cause was sent to the Vatican in 1932. She was declared venerable in 1942, the first step to sainthood that recognizes the candidate’s heroic virtues.
Two miracles that occur after death are generally needed for a sainthood cause to move forward. After a first miracle is confirmed by the church, the candidate is beatified. Kateri was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, giving her the title “Blessed.”
Documentation for the final miracle needed for her canonization was sent to the Vatican in July 2009. It involved the recovery of a young boy in Seattle whose face had been disfigured by flesh-eating bacteria and who almost died from the disease. But he recovered completely, and the Vatican confirmed the work of a tribunal who determined there was no medical explanation for it.
On Dec. 19, the pope signed the decree recognizing the miracle in Blessed Kateri’s cause clearing the way for her canonization.
The U.S. church marks her feast day July 14. She is listed as patron of American Indians, ecology and the environment and is held up as a model for Catholic youths.
In the United States, there are two shrines to Blessed Kateri, the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Fonda, N.Y., and the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville.
The National Tekakwitha Conference, based in Great Falls, Mont., was started in 1939 as a way to unify Catholic American Indians from different tribes across the United States. The organization is financed by membership dues and grants from the U.S. bishops, the Catholic Church Extension Society and the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions.
“The Indian people in the United States and Canada have longed for the canonization of Blessed Kateri from the moment of her beatification,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia told Catholic News Service at the Vatican Dec. 7.
A member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, he is the only Native American Catholic archbishop in the United States.
“We are all very proud of her because she embodies in herself what Pope John Paul II called inculturation — the saints are the truly inculturated members of a particular ethnic group because they personally embody both the Gospel and the culture from which they come,” he said.
Interviewed before the pope’s decree, Archbishop Chaput said news of her canonization would bring “great rejoicing for the Indian community,” and he predicted “we’ll show up in significant numbers here in Rome” for her canonization ceremony.
Blessed Kateri has always been held up “as a very holy person by members of the Native community and they have longed and longed for this moment to come,” Msgr. Paul A. Lenz told CNS Dec. 19. He is vice postulator for her cause and former executive director of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions.
When she worked in the fields, Blessed Kateri would carry a cross with her as a source for contemplation. Her last words were reported to be, “Jesus, I love you.”
Mother Marianne only superior to answer call to help leprosy patients
By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Blessed Marianne Cope, as the head of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse, N.Y., led the first group of sisters to the Hawaiian Islands in 1883 to establish a system of nursing care for leprosy patients.
Of 50 religious superiors in the United States, Canada and Europe who were asked for help, she was the only one to accept the challenge.
When she died in 1918 on the island of Molokai, a Honolulu newspaper wrote: “Seldom has the opportunity come to a woman to devote every hour of 30 years to the mothering of people isolated by law from the rest of the world. She risked her own life in all that time, faced everything with unflinching courage and smiled sweetly through it all.”
On Dec. 19, Pope Benedict XVI cleared the way for Mother Marianne’s canonization by signing a decree recognizing a second miracle attributed to her intercession, but no date has been set for the canonization ceremony.
The pope’s action followed a Dec. 6 ruling by the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes. The congregation confirmed a unanimous ruling by the medical board and theologians at the Vatican that a woman’s healing was declared inexplicable since doctors had expected her to die and were amazed at her survival. No other details of the case were released.
Mother Marianne was born Barbara Koob Jan. 23, 1838, in Heppenheim, Germany. She was not yet 2 when her parents brought her and her three siblings to the United States and settled in Utica, N.Y. The family later Americanized their surname as Cope.
She became a U.S. citizen when her father was naturalized in 1855.
The family belonged to St. Joseph’s Parish in Utica, where the children, including Barbara, attended the parish school. Barbara received her first Communion and confirmation there.
“Barbara wrote of experiencing a call to religious life at an early age,” says a biography posted on her order’s website, but family obligations delayed her vocation nine years.
“As the oldest child at home, and after completing an eighth-grade education, she went to work in a factory to support the family when her father became an invalid,” it said.
In 1862, Barbara joined the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y., taking Marianne as her religious name. She taught at a parish school. She later became administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, where she learned much about nursing.
“Sister Marianne worked by the side of doctors in Syracuse from one of the country’s most progressive medical colleges, her biography says. What she learned about various hospital systems, nursing and pharmacy procedures “she later put to good use in Hawaii.”
In 1877, Mother Marianne was elected mother general of her order. Six years later, she responded to the Hawaiian government’s appeal for health care workers to care for patients with leprosy, now called Hansen’s disease, in Honolulu.
She arrived in Hawaii Nov. 8, 1883, at age 45, with six other Franciscan sisters. They first worked at the Kakaako Branch Hospital in Honolulu. Mother Marianne then opened Kapiolani Home for the daughters of leprosy patients and also founded the first general hospital on the island of Maui.
Mother Marianne arrived at the Kalaupapa leprosy settlement on Molokai in 1888, a few months before the death of St. Damien de Veuster, a Belgian Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary missionary who was legendary for his ministry to Hawaiian leprosy patients. He died of the disease in 1889.
She succeeded the priest as the settlement’s guiding force and took over the home that he had run for men and boys. She and two of her sisters later opened a home for women and girls who suffered from the disease.
Her work was celebrated in honors bestowed by the Hawaiian government and in a poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson. She died on the island Aug. 9, 1918, of natural causes. She was 80.
Shortly after her death, the Sisters of St. Francis began collecting materials about her life and ministry for her eventual canonization. Her cause was officially opened May 14, 1983.
On Oct. 24, 2003, the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes declared she was a person of heroic virtues, the first step in the canonization process. In April 2004, Pope John Paul II gave her the title “venerable.”
In general, the church must then confirm two miracles before sainthood is declared. The first miracle is needed for beatification and the second for canonization.
The first miracle attributed to Mother Marianne’s intercession was the medically unexplainable recovery of a New York girl who recovered from near death from multiple organ failure. In 2004, it was approved by a medical board and a group of theologians and affirmed by Pope John Paul II later that year.
In 2005, Mother Marianne’s remains were exhumed from gravesite at Kalaupapa, Molokai, and returned to Syracuse. She was beatified in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican May 14, 2005, by Pope Benedict XVI.
Sister Patricia Burkard, general minister of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, told Catholic News Service in early December that the sisters see Mother Marianne as a “guide for our own dedication and ministry” and they also know they share her with many in Hawaii “where she is beloved.”
She said they view her as “an ordinary person … who knew what was hers to do and did it.”
In his reaction to the pope’s recognition of the second miracle, Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva began with two quotes from Mother Marianne: “We are hungry for the work.” “We do not fear any disease.”
“We continue to be inspired by these noteworthy quotes from Mother Marianne herself,” the bishop said in a statement. “Her sainthood is meant to inspire us all to hunger, as she did, for the work of serving the poorest among us in the most trying of circumstances.
“Her impending canonization will give us courage to face the severe social and physical diseases that eat away at our society.”
Bishop Silva added that “we are twice blessed in Hawaii,” with the canonization of St. Damien in 2009 and the upcoming canonization of “this woman of great intelligence, dedication and love.”
“May her legacy in health care, education and spiritual nourishment of the soul move us to work without fear for all that needs to be done to bring the love of Christ Jesus to others!” he said. “We in Hawaii join all the world in giving thanks to God for this soon-to-be saint!”
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.