Daniel Koob is excited about witnessing the Oct. 21 canonization ceremony at the Vatican where Blessed Marianne Cope and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha will become saints.
But for Mr. Koob, a parishioner at St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church in Cleveland, his attendance at the holy ceremony will be much more than the passing interest of a faithful tourist.
Mr. Koob’s great, great aunt is Blessed Marianne Cope, a 19th century Franciscan sister who ministered to Hawaiian lepers with iconic priest Father Damien, who was canonized in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Mr. Koob said the family of Mother Marianne, which extends from Pennsylvania, to California, to Florida, to Tennessee and points in between, is thrilled that she is being recognized as a saint.
Mr. Koob is traveling to Rome, where he will meet a family member from Philadelphia, and they will attend the canonization as representatives of Blessed Marianne’s family.
“She has always been revered in the family,” Mr. Koob said. “We have always believed she would become a saint.”
Pope Benedict XVI formally recognized miracles attributed to Blessed Marianne and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha last December, clearing the way for both women to be canonized.
The two women lived in the United States and are among several individuals whose sainthood causes have been advanced by decrees authorized by Pope Benedict.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved Blessed Marianne’s second official miracle, which involved the medical recovery of a woman in Syracuse, N.Y., who was cured of a fatal and irreversible health condition.
Born in western Germany in 1838, Blessed Marianne entered religious life in Syracuse, where she served as a teacher and principal and established two hospitals before traveling to Hawaii, where she spent 30 years caring for lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. She died on the island in 1918 at age 80 and was beatified in St. Peter’s Basilica in 2005.
She joined the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis based in Syracuse and received the habit of the Franciscan Sisters along with the name Marianne.
Mr. Koob said she was born and baptized as Maria Anna Barbara Koob but her last name was changed to Cope during her immigration to the United States.
He has been in touch with Blessed Marianne’s order, and said the sisters there were surprised to hear from family members. A contingent of Franciscan Sisters and supporters from Molokai also plan to attend the canonization.
Mr. Koob, who resides in Calhoun, Tenn., with his wife, Kim, and six children, Eric, Jason, Laura, Katie, Ryan, and David, is hopeful that Blessed Marianne’s family and close associates attending the canonization will get to meet with Pope Benedict.
His mother, Delores Koob, who lives in Cleveland and also attends St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church, has kept up with the family history on Blessed Marianne. She described how the king and queen of Hawaii in the early to mid-1800s
sought help to tend to the island nation’s growing leper colony.
She said the few who responded were Father Damien and some Sisters, who risked their own lives to aid those with Hansen’s Disease. Father Damien eventually contracted the disease and died from it. However, Blessed Marianne never had the disease.
“To do the work they did was a calling from the Lord. Everyday they had to clean and bandage those wounds. She was confident she and the other Sisters would not get leprosy and they never did,” Mrs. Koob said, noting that Blessed Marianne took over operation of the leper colony when Father Damien died.
While she will not be in attendance in Rome, Mrs. Koob plans to watch the canonization Mass on the EWTN cable channel at about 4 a.m. EDT.
“There will be a lot of us watching. It’s not like being there, but it’s something and we can see and hear it like it was midnight Mass from Rome,” she said, adding that she will be watching it with her daughter, who is visiting from California.
“It’s something the family will be able to talk about from now on. It’s unbelievable. It’s very thrilling. It’s a blessing,” she said.