Tag Archives: St Damien de Veuster of Molokai

Saint Marianne Cope

Marrianne CopeToday’s the feast of one of our great American saints, Saint Marianne Cope, a Franciscan sister who spent 35 years ministering to people living with Hansen’s Disease (called leprosy) on the island of Molokai in Hawaii. Cope is part of a small group of American saints.

Saint Marianne (1838-1918) was a close collaborator of the famous Saint Damian DeVeuster of Molokai.

Cope’s venerable body was recently returned to the Diocese of Hawaii.

Bishop Larry Silva said this in a homily:

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. Who will make the rest of the world as hungry as was our beloved St. Marianne?

More about her inspiring life can be found on her order’s website, the Sisters of St. Francis:  https://sosf.org/st-marianne-cope/

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a poem:

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.

Healing the leper in all of us…Jesus touches our hearts

Jesus heals the leper detail.jpg

The Church prays today,

O God, who teach
us that you abide in hearts that are just and true, grant that we may be so
fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.

What other grace do we need but the grace to abide in Christ? The priest’s prayer at Mass in the anamnesis tells us and God that He lives hearts that are just and true.

The Gospel today relates something that calls to mind the work of Saint Damian of Molokai and Blessed soon-to-be-saint Marianne Cope who worked with and evangelized lepers in Hawaii. Their love was extroverted. No doubt the Lord’s touch and the saints’ humanity was likely the first substantial, real contact these “outcasts” experienced. The Lord’s touch of the leper is as the Prayer over the Offering prays, it “cleanses and renews” for the sake of our salvation. So much for us, too. May the Lord touch our uncleanness and sinfulness so that we may be close to Him.

What other than love and compassion did the Lord have for the marginalized? The medical leper and the spiritual leper always have on their lips Psalm 32: “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.”

Saint Damien de Veuster of Molokai

St Damien reading.jpeg

In August 1873, to his Superior General:

Divine Providence, having compassion on the unfortunate, has thought fit to look upon your unworthy servant to care for the spiritual needs of a well-known leprosy hospital that our Government had to establish to preserve the whole archipelago from disease. Thus, it is in my role as pastor of an unusual parish of eight hundred lepers, nearly half of whom are now Catholics, that I take the liberty to write to you these lines.

November 9, 1887, to his brother, Father Pamphile:

As you know, it has been already quite a while that Divine Providence chose me to become a victim of this repugnant disease of ours. I hope to remain eternally grateful for this grace. It seems to me that this disease will shorten and narrow the way that will lead me to our dear homeland. In that hope accepted this disease as my particular cross; I try to bear it as did Simon of Cyrene, following in the footsteps of our Divine Master. Please assist me with your good prayers, so as to obtain for me the strength of perseverance, until I reach the summit of Calvary.

Saint Damien de Veuster (of Molokai)

St Damien-of-Molokai iconjpg.jpgFather of mercy, in Saint Damien You have given us a
shining witness of love for the poorest and most abandoned. Grant that, by his
intercession, as a faithful witnesses of the Heart of Your Son Jesus, we too
may be servants of the most needy and rejected.

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Damien de Veuster on October 11, 2009. Saint Damien is counted among the North American Martyrs and six other saints for a total of 15 saints of the USA. A wiki-article has a brief outline of Saint Damien’s life.

A number of resources have been pulled together for Saint Damien here.

The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary have published the texts for the Divine Office and the Mass for the liturgical memorial of Saint Damien found here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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