St. Marianne Cope – The Leper Nun

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“Who was this lady of refinement so different from the Belgian farmer turned priest who dared waste herself in that forsaken place?” Mother Marianne Cope

This post was originally published in 2004, in Franciscan Way Magazine. Some details have changed. Mother Marianne was beatified the following year. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. Her relics were transferred to Honolulu for easier access. Speaking of easy access, I’m from just outside of Utica, NY, where she grew up. As soon as I learned we had a hometown saint – a way cool one – I started seeking her out. On each visit to see my Pop, I’d drive up and down Schuyler Street saying, “I know her house is here somewhere!” Nothing. By Providence, I happened to be visiting him on the weekend that the City of Utica renamed Varick Street St. Marianne Way. I hopped out of the car and took this picture. Just beyond the sign is her former parish – now called St. Joseph, St. Patrick. There was – what else – a festival there in her honor.

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