Canonized on October 21, 2012, St. Marianne Cope was only the 11th American to recognized as a saint. A Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities and the first Franciscan woman from North American to be canonized, she was greatly loved and is commonly known as the “beloved mother of outcasts.” She spent her early years in Central New York (the area around Syracuse), serving as a leader in her congregation. She was also a leader in the field of education, as a teacher and principal, as well as in field of health care, opening St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Utica and St. Joseph Hospital Health Center in Syracuse. These hospitals went against the norm of the time and served all, regardless of wealth, race or creed. In 1883, she left the people of New York to serve those afflicted with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) on Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii. After opening a hospital and school in Maui, she and her sisters settled on the Kalaupapa peninsula, along side those who they lovingly served, creating a community filled with care and respect. There she stayed for the last 35 years of her life. Upon her death in 1918, her sisters stayed on and cared for the community they helped to create. To this day, no sister has ever contracted the disease, as promised by Mother Marianne.
The people of Syracuse still hold St. (Mother) Marianne Cope dear, a fact made evident as our Minister Provincial, the Very Rev. Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv., blessed the newest addition in the back of the upper church, of The Franciscan Church of the Assumption. on June 4, 2015. There, parishioners and visitors will find a newly completed Shrine of St. Marianne Cope. Upon Mother Marianne’s 2012 canonization, the idea of adding the shrine was conceived by the former pastor and now the Vicar Provincial of our province, Fr. Brad Milunski, OFM Conv. Construction was completed under the leadership of the current pastor, Fr. Timothy Dore, OFM Conv. The new shrine houses a relic of the saint, as well as a plaque presented in October of 2012 to the parish, in commemoration of the Bishop of Honolulu, Most Rev. Clarence Silva’s, pilgrimage to Syracuse, accompanied by nine Hansen’s disease patients and residents of Kalaupapa, in recognition of the 8,000 patients banished to the Hawaiian Island of Molokai. The plaque honors their memory and that of Saint Marianne Cope. Also within the new shrine can be found an icon “written” by Friar Matthew Bond, OFM Conv., a Simply Professed friar in formation, of the Our Lady of the Angels Province Custody of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa, in Oxford, England.
Mother Marianne was a native of Syracuse and has strong ties to the parish and the people of the Franciscan Church of the Assumption. However, she made Hawaii her final home and her remains were transported from Syracuse to the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, in Honolulu, in July of 2014. Her Feast Day is January 23rd.
Our Lady of the Angels Province has been entrusted with two major relics of St. Anthony of Padua. They both consist of petrified skin taken from the body of St. Anthony during the 1981 public recognition of his corpse. This was achieved during the 2nd time in history that his tomb was opened. It was first opened in 1263 by St. Bonaventure. The most well known of the two Our Lady of the Angels Province’s relics of St. Anthony is permanently displayed for veneration, in a gold bust at the Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, MD. In the narthex of the Shrine, the gold-leafed bust depicts the Portuguese Franciscan whom the whole world would come to love as a “finder of the lost.” In the middle of the flame portion of the reliquary bust is a precious first-class relic of the saint, gifted by the friars in Padua, in 1998. Catholics venerate, or pay respect to, relics as remembrances of a saint whose human body was once a “temple” of the Holy Spirit.
The second relic is encased in the gold reliquary-statuette of St. Anthony. Known as the Pilgrim Relic (pictured here), it is usually housed in the Provincial Offices. There are times when it does travel to different ministries within the Our Lady of the Angels Province. On Thursday, June 4, 2014 the Pilgrim Relic became part of nine days of Masses and Novena prayers to St. Anthony for the parishioners of The Franciscan Church of the Assumption, in Syracuse, NY, that began with a Mass of reception, presided over by the Minister Provincial of Our Lady of the Angels Province, the Very Rev. Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. During each day of the novena, there was time set aside for the parishioners’ and visitors ‘ veneration.