The mother and brothers of Jesus arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Mary – “ever-virgin”
499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.” And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin”.
500 Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, “brothers of Jesus”, are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls “the other Mary”. They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.
501 Jesus is Mary’s only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save: “The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother’s love.”
A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me;
you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name.
Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.
You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.
Source: The New American Bible
Marianne Cope OSF, also known as Saint Marianne of Molokaʻi, (January 23, 1838 – August 9, 1918) was a German-born American nun who was a member of the Sisters of St Francis of Syracuse, New York, and administrator of its St. Joseph’s Hospital in the city. Known also for her charitable works, in 1883 she relocated with six other Sisters to Hawaiʻi to care for persons suffering Hansen’s Disease on the island of Molokaʻi and aid in developing the medical infrastructure in Hawaiʻi. Despite direct contact with the patients over many years, Cope did not contract the disease.
In 2005, Cope was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. Cope was declared a saint by the same pope on October 21, 2012, along with Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th-century Native American. Cope is the 11th person in what is now the United States to be canonized by the Catholic Church.
Birth and vocation
Cope was baptized Maria Anna Barbara Koob, later anglicizing her last name to “Cope”. She was born January 23, 1838, in Heppenheim in the Grand Duchy of Hesse to Peter Koob (1787–1862) and Barbara Witzenbacher (1803–1872). The following year her family emigrated to the United States, settling in the industrial city of Utica, New York. They became members of the Parish of St Joseph, where Cope attended parish school. By the time she was in eighth grade, her father had become an invalid. As the oldest child, Cope left school to work in a textile factory to help support her family.Her father became naturalized as an American citizen, which at the time meant the entire family received automatic citizenship status.
By the time their father Peter Cope died in 1862, the younger children in the family were of age to support themselves, so Maria pursued her long-felt religious calling. She entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. After a year of formation, Cope received the religious habit of the Franciscan Sisters along with the new name Marianne. She became first a teacher and then a principal in newly established schools for the region’s German-speaking immigrants. Following the revolutions of 1848, numerous German immigrants entered the United States.
By 1870, Cope had become a member of the governing council of her religious congregation. She helped found the first two Catholic hospitals in Central New York, with charters stipulating that medical care was to be provided to all, regardless of race or creed. She was appointed by the Superior General to govern St. Joseph’s Hospital, the first public hospital in Syracuse, serving from 1870-77.
As hospital administrator, Cope became involved with the move of Geneva Medical College of Hobart College from Geneva, New York, to Syracuse, where it became the College of Medicine at Syracuse University. She contracted with the college to accept their students for treating patients in her hospital, to further their medical education. Her stipulation in the contract—again unique for the period—was the right of the patients to refuse care by the students. These experiences helped prepare her for the special ministry she next pursued.
Call to Hawaii
In 1883, Cope, by then Superior General of the congregation, received a plea for help from King Kalākaua of Hawaii to care for leprosy sufferers. More than 50 religious congregations had already declined his request for Sisters to do this, because leprosy was considered to be highly contagious. She responded enthusiastically to the letter:
I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen Ones, whose privilege it will be, to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders… I am not afraid of any disease, hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned ‘lepers.’
Cope departed from Syracuse with six other Sisters to travel to Honolulu to answer this call, arriving on November 8, 1883. They traveled on the SS Mariposa. With Mother Marianne as supervisor, the Sisters’ task was to manage Kakaʻako Branch Hospital on Oʻahu, which served as a receiving station for Hansen’s disease patients gathered from all over the islands. The more severe cases were processed and shipped to the island of Molokaʻi for confinement in the settlement at Kalawao, and then later at Kalaupapa.
The following year, at the request of the government, Cope set up Malulani Hospital, the first general hospital on the island of Maui. Soon, she was called back to the hospital in Oahu. She had to deal with a government-appointed administrator’s abuse of the leprosy patients at the Branch Hospital at Kakaako, an area adjoining Honolulu. She told the government that either the administrator had to be dismissed or the Sisters would return to Syracuse. She was given charge of the overcrowded hospital. Her return to Syracuse to re-assume governance of the congregation was delayed, as both the government and church authorities thought she was essential to the success of the mission.
Two years later, the king awarded Mother Marianne with the Cross of a Companion of the Royal Order of Kapiolani for her care of his people. The work continued to increase. In November 1885, Cope opened the Kapiolani Home with the support of the government, to provide shelter to homeless female children of leprosy patients. The home was located on the grounds of a leprosy hospital because only the Sisters were willing to care for children so closely associated to people suffering from leprosy.
In 1887, a new government came into office. It ended the forced exile of leprosy patients to Molokai and closed the specialty hospital in Oahu. A year later, the authorities pleaded with Cope to establish a new home for women and girls on the Kalaupapa peninsula of Molokai. She accepted the call, knowing that it might mean she would never return to New York. “We will cheerfully accept the work…” was her response.
In November 1888, Cope moved to Kalaupapa. She cared for the dying Father Damien, SS.CC., who was already known internationally for his work in the leper colony, and began to take over his burdens. She had met him shortly after her arrival in Hawaii.
When Father Damien died on April 15, 1889, the government officially gave Cope charge for the care of the boys of Kalaupapa, in addition to her existing role in caring for the female residents of the colony. A prominent local businessman, Henry Perrine Baldwin, donated money for the new home. Mother Marianne and two assistants, Sister Leopoldina Burns and Sister Vincentia McCormick, opened and ran a new girls’ school, which she named in Baldwin’s honor. A community of Religious Brothers was sought to come and care for the boys. After the arrival of four Brothers of the Sacred Heart in 1895, Cope withdrew the Sisters to the Bishop Home for leprous women and girls. Joseph Dutton was given charge of Baldwin House by the government.
Cope died on August 9, 1918, due to natural causes. She was buried on the grounds of the Bishop Home. In 2005, her remains were returned to Syracuse for reinterment at her mother house. In 2014, her remains were returned to Honolulu and are enshrined at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.