Blessed Mother Marianne Cope was ordinary, in her opinion. To those around her, however, her heart of service and love was nothing short of extraordinary. Born into a poor family of eight children in Germany, Marianne emigrated to the United States at a young age, growing up in upstate New York. While she was called at a very early age to serve the Lord, Marianne delayed entering the convent in Syracuse for nine years, working in a factory to help support her family after her father fell ill. In 1863, she made her vows. Her intention was to teach, but the Lord had other plans for her.
After a series of teaching positions, that eventually led to mostly administrative positions, Marianne found herself working in healthcare. She successfully served as administrator of several small clinics and hospitals, and became known for treating patients who most facilities turned away. She looked with kindness on the “outcasts” of society, including alcoholics and drug users, and others the world had written off. As news of her caring heart and practical mind (despite never attending school past the eighth grade) spread, she received a life-changing offer from a Catholic priest in Moloka’i, Hawai’i. He asked Marianne for help running a small community for lepers. She responded enthusiastically, writing, “I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen Ones, whose privilege it will be, to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders... I am not afraid of any disease, hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned ‘lepers.’” Marianne and six sisters from her order travelled to Hawai’i, where she would spend the next thirty years tirelessly working to aid those in need.
In 1888, Mother Marianne moved to Kalaupapa, a leper isolation community established by Hawaiian King Kamehaha V, and ministered to by Blessed Father Damien. She undertook administration of that colony upon his death, working to “bring joy” into the lives of the ill. She miraculously remained healthy throughout her service, known for unflinching courage, and a cheerful disposition. For Mother Marianne, looking upon the faces of her people, outcasts though they might be, was like “looking upon the face of Christ.”
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 breast of pain!—
He marks the sisters on the painful shores,
And even a fool is silent and adores.
Mother Marianne was venerated by Pope John Paul II in April 2004, following reports by the faithful of miraculous cures at her intercession. She was beatified by Pope benedict XVI in May 2005. Her feast day is celebrated on January 23, her date of birth.
Mother Marianne, like Saint Vincent Pallotti, saw the need of radical service in the world. Looking to Christ as a model, Blessed Mother Marriane gave up her own life in service to others, isolating herself with those in need, and becoming “outcast” with them. Her courage, love, and kindness inspire us to evaluate our communities, our world, and see where our gifts of service may be needed. How can we improve the lives of others? Remebering that all are equal in God’s love, and that no sheep is misplaced or forgotten by the Good Shepherd, how can we help those that the world has forgotten?
Day 23of 365
Prayer Intentions: A heart of service to others; Those suffering in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake
Requested Intentions: Those considering or having attempted suicide (Pr. L); Those who serve the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (N); Recovery for Grandmother with broken hip (H); Recovery for Mother who had a stroke (C); Successful surgery and recovery for father (G); Safety of friend/ relief worker in Haiti (L).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."