Mother Marianne, formerly Barbara Koob, was born on Jan. 23, 1838 in Germany. Her family emigrated to New York in 1839. She entered the Sisters of Saint Francis and was invested in 1862. She began her career as nurse administrator in 1870. She was known to be ahead of her time in the treatment of patients and sponsored programs or classes in connection with hospitals in Syracuse, Honolulu and Kalaupapa. At Kalaupapa, she fostered an interest in color harmony, needlework and landscaping.

In 1883, the Kingdom of Hawaii put out a call for assistance to religious communities to open a hospital for leprosy patients on Oahu. Only Mother Marianne Cope, superior general of the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse, N.Y., responded. “I am not afraid of any disease…,” she said. On Nov. 8, 1883, six sisters and Mother Marianne arrived in Honolulu on the SS Mariposa.

In 1888, Mother Marianne responded again when the government asked for help in founding a home for women and girls in Kalaupapa. She arrived several months before Fr. Damien’s death and assured the dying priest she would also care for the patients at the Boys’ Home in Kalawao. After Damien’s death, she built a new boys’ home and on its completion, suggested that Brothers be invited to run it. When they arrived in 1893, she withdrew the Sisters working there to work with her at the Bishop Home. She died of natural causes on Aug.9, 1918, almost 35 years after arriving in Hawaii.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II declared her Venerable. Mother Marianne was beatified in 2005 and was canonized in 2012.

Known as the Heroine of Moloka’i, Mother Marianne was an inspiration to the sisters she worked with, to the patients she cared for and is an inspiration today for the enduring witness of her selfless ministry.

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