Bishop Larry Silva blessed the return of the remains of St. Marianne Cope in a ceremonial welcome and mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace Thursday.
The sisters of her order, the women inspired by her works to enter into the religious life, carried St. Marianne to her final resting place.
“Like your mother’s returning; now we can share her with the rest of the world here in Hawaii,” said Sister William Marie Aleneki, Order of St. Francis.
“We’ll be inspired by her love of the lord Jesus and inspired by her devotion to care for those most in need,” said Silva.
Mother Marianne died in 1918 and was interred at Kalaupapa.
Nine years ago, Marianne’s casket was unearthed and was sent to Syracuse, New York, after a farewell mass in this same cathedral.
So why has Hawaii’s second saint been gaining such frequent flyer mileage these past nine years? It has to do with the process of canonization. When a candidate is close to being named a saint, his or her remains become relics, or objects to be venerated.
Just as Father Damien's remains were unearthed from Kalaupapa and sent back to Belgium, Marianne's casket was sent to her mother house in Syracuse. There it rested in the convent chapel.
Now the 18th century brownstone chapel is crumbling and the remaining nuns relocated to more modern facilities, which do not include a place for a reliquary.
Thursday's mass drew representatives of the Vatican and descendants here and on the east coast.
“She’s home. She’s where she belongs and I love the idea of coming back to Hawaii to visit her,” said Meg Burnett, a family descendant.
“I’m surprised the Bishop of Syracuse allowed her remains to come here, but I’m pleased they’re here,” said Dr. Paul DeMare, St. Marianne’s great grandnephew.
Among the first to give her homage were the patients of Kalaupapa.
“She represents the people who went before me. She took care of a lot of them,” said Makia Malo, a Kalaupapa patient.
For now, her remains will lie beneath her picture near the cathedral apse. In 1.5 years when the building is renovated, St. Marianne will lay in a shrine to be excavated beneath the floor.
“As saint is universally prayed to and admired and loved, but for the Catholic church in America, we now have the first saint who is enshrined in the cathedral – the mother church of a diocese,” said Joan Lewis, Vatican Television Bureau Chief.
The state legislature has designated Marianne's birthday, Jan. 23, as St. Marianne Cope Day in Hawaii.