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Poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1889

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 breast of pain!—
He marks the sisters on the painful shores,
And even a fool is silent and adores.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Kalawao, May 22, 1889

Poem written by Robert Lewis Stevenson
Original copy of poem in Blessed Marianne Cope Museum at 1024 Court St., Syracuse, NY

Interview with Mother Marianne’s Nurse in 1941

Utica Reporter:  Do the books and stories about Mother Marianne exaggerate her qualities?

Nurse: “No, Mother Marianne was the gentlest, the cheeriest and the most dignified person you could imagine, and a disciplinarian, too."

Mother Marianne Cope shortly before her death on August 9, 1918.
Mother Marianne Cope shortly before her death on August 9, 1918.
“She revolutionized life on Molokai, brought cleanliness, pride and fun to the colony. People on Molokai laugh now—like other people in the world, laugh at the same things, the same dilemmas and jokes."

“It was Mother Marianne who bought the girls hair ribbons and pretty things to wear, dresses and scarves. Women keep their cottages and their rooms in the big communal houses neatly, pride fully. There are snowy bedspreads, pictures on the walls. They set their tables at meal time with taste, Mother Marianne brought that about."

“She interested the women in color harmony. Sit in services at the back of the church in Molokai and observe the lovely arrangements of color of the women. When Mother Marianne went to the island, people there had no thought for the graces of life. ‘We are lepers,’ they told her. ‘What does it matter?’ Well, she changed all that. Doctors have said that her psychology was 50 years ahead of her time."

Sister Magdalene was one of the nuns who attended Mother Marianne during her last illness, an old woman, but still valiant.

“She knew that the end was near but on that last day she insisted on joining the nuns at mealtimes. ‘No tears,’ she said. ‘Of course, I am coming to table. Why not?’ That night she died while we were at her bedside."


Mother Marianne Passes On

Dr. A. Mouritz

"The Venerable Mother Superior Marianne died at 10:50 p.m. on Friday, August 9, 1918, at the Bishop Home, Kalaupapa, Molokai; then the waiting Angels most assuredly guided her Spirit, heavenward. She had devoted 29 years of her life [plus] caring for the women and girls of the Home, and also five years previously at the Kakaako Hospital [island of Oahu] from November 8, 1883 to November 13, 1888. Her age at death was [80] years, 6 months and 17 days. The immediate cause of her death was kidney and heart disease…of several years standing."

A Brief World History of Leprosy 1943 [Dr. Mouritz was Father Damien’s physician.]


Heroine and Martyr

Honolulu Advertiser, August 11, 1918

“Seldom has the opportunity come to a woman to devote every hour of thirty years [at Molokai] to the mothering of people isolated by law from the rest of the world as have been these people. She risked her own life in all that time, faced everything with unflinching courage and smiled sweetly through it all. She came to Honolulu ready to do whatever was required of her. Without blare of trumpets, Sister Marianne entered upon her duties and through thirty long, wearisome years living apart from the world and its comforts, she labored in the cause of a stricken people. She was a heroine in life; she is a martyr in death."

Mrs. John Bowler, society woman who met Mother Marianne in 1882 upon her arrival.


Vale Sister Marianne

The Daily Post-Herald, Hilo, Hawaii August 12, 1918

“Locked away from the pulse of life on an island in the Pacific, under surroundings pleasant enough in their outward seeming but which must have wrung her heart, Sister Marianne died at her post on Molokai the other day. Thirty years of her life she had given to those she served [at Molokai.]  Thirty years of her life she had struggled bravely to ease the lot of the unfortunate under her care. Father Damien won deserved fame for this self sacrifice. Sister Marianne’s sacrifice was none the less that she escaped the malady her charges suffered from. This is an age of heroes, most of them unsung, and of heroines who scorn fame and do their duty hiding from their right hands what their left hands are accomplishing. France and Flanders have had their thousands of heroic nurses, but none of them deserve more lastingly to be cherished in the minds and hearts of mankind than Sister Marianne who died doing her work."


Defied Death Among Leprosy Patients for 35 Years

Fred Dutcher, The Post Standard, Syracuse, NY August 18, 1918

"When the roll of the saints is called, Mother Marianne will be there. Fifty-six of the eighty years of her life she gave in the service of the Man of Galilee whose touch made a leper clean, and thirty-five of those she devoted in ministration to the doomed people of Molokai.

Mother Marianne’s name will live on as that of a woman whose noble self-sacrifice ranks with the death-defying devotion of the martyrs of old. No woman ever went out of Syracuse on a greater mission, none from Syracuse ever gave more than she did. She left all she held dear, her friends, the highest office in the Third Order of St. Frances, which she then held, and every earthly tie, when she heard the call, ‘Come to Molokai.’"


Quotes of Blessed Marianne Cope

Missionary Spirit 

“The charity of the good knows no creed and is confined to no one place."  (1870’s)

“I hope the Fr. Provincial’s good heart will approve my wish to accept the work with leprosy patients in Hawaii in the name of the great Saint Francis."  (1883)

“For us it is happiness to be able to comfort, in a measure, the poor exiles, and we rejoice that we are unworthy agents of our heavenly Father through whom He deigns to show His great love and mercy to the sufferers."  (1884)

“We bring no gift to Your Majesty except our service in behalf of your suffering people, whose infirmity we bear in our hearts."  (1884)

“We were not only willing but anxious to go and care for the poor outcasts."  (1887)

“My heart bled for the children and I was anxious and hungry to help put a little more sunshine into their dreary lives." (1889)

Picture of young girl with leprosy



Devotion to God

Artist Edward Burne-Jones sent this painting to a dying Father Damien and it was given to Mother Marianne after Damien's death.

“Let us make the very best use of the precious moments and do all in our power for His dear sake and for His greater honor and glory."  (1900)

“I do not think of reward; I am working for God, and do so cheerfully."  (1902)

“I wish you all the blessing you may stand in need of to become a perfect child of Saint Francis – that you may say with him in all sincerity – “My God and my All."  (1903)

“God giveth life;  He will take it away in His own good time.  Meanwhile it is our duty to make life as pleasant and as comfortable as possible for those of our fellow-creatures whom He has chosen to afflict."  (1905)

(Photo on left ~ Artist Edward Burne-Jones sent this painting to a dying Father Damien and it was given to Mother Marianne after Damien's death.)




Spirit of Ministry

“The wishes of the patients with regard to their being brought before the medical students should be respected in every case."  (1874)

“If we, with the help of God, do our duty and work for His honor and glory no one will interfere with us."  (1887)

“What little good we can do in this world to help and comfort the suffering, we wish to do it quietly and so far as possible unnoticed and unknown."  (1888)

“Our dear heavenly Mother Mary…how little do our trials and sorrows appear when compared to her bitter sufferings."  (1891)

“Creep down into the heart of Jesus.  He alone can comfort you in your supreme hour of sorrow."  (1904)

“Try to accept what God is pleased to give you no matter how bitter-God wills it, is the thought that will strengthen you and help you over the hard places if we wish to be true children of God."  (1905)

“Let us make best use of the fleeting moments.  They will not return."  (1905)

“May God give you health and strength so you will be able to lead the little ones to Him and teach them to love God more than any thing in this world."  (1915)

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