Pope Benedict XVI will lead the ceremony on Sunday that will elevate Mother Marianne and Blessed Kateri to sainthood.
Mother Marianne, born in 1838 in Germany, was a Franciscan nun who traveled from Syracuse, N.Y., to Hawaii in order to take care of leprosy patients. In 1883, while serving as superior general for the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis of Syracuse, Mother Marianne received a request from Hawaii’s King Kalākaua to manage hospitals and take care of lepers.
Upon receiving the request, she quickly accepted the offer after 50 other congregations had refused. According to the Vatican, Mother Marianne felt it was her calling, saying “I am not afraid of any disease, hence, it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned "lepers'.”
Mother Marianne became a leader in Hawaii, cleaning up hospitals while also treating leprosy patients. Mother Marianne later opened a home for girls who were left homeless due to leprosy and another home for female leprosy patients after the hospital in Oahu closed.
In order to become canonized, Mother Marianne needed one more miracle and that did not happen until nearly 90 years after her death. The miracles that were recognized by the church included a miraculous healing of Sharon Smith in 2005. Smith had an infection which created a hole between her stomach and intestines. Smith was cured of the infection after praying to Mother Marianne and having a bag of soil that contained pieces of Mother Marianne’s bones pinned to her gown she wore while at the hospital.
Another saint that will be canonized on Sunday also has roots in upstate New York. Kateri Tekakwitha was a Mohawk Indian who undertook a vow of virginity and was considered an outcast due to her religious beliefs. The miracles attributed to her include the disappearance of her smallpox scars right before she died and a 2006 miracle where a young boy survived a flesh-eating bacterial infection after praying to Tekakwitha. Surgeons could not stop the spread of infection and his family thought the boy was likely to die before turning to Tekakwitha and asking for divine intervention.