Relic to tour island and be installed in Honolulu cathedral
Submitted by the Sisters of St. Francis
A first class relic consisting of bone fragments of the remains of Blessed Marianne Cope will be brought to Hawaii on May 4. The relic will be brought to churches around the islands until its installation in the sanctuary of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu on May 13.
Sister Patricia Burkard, OSF, General Minister of the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities, will be the courier of the relic on its trip to Hawaii. Sister Patricia will speak on occasions when the relic is venerated in churches on the tour. She expressed her appreciation of the invitation.
“Blessed Marianne’s first visit to a place of worship in Hawaii was to the Cathedral, where on the day of her arrival on November 8, 1883, she was welcomed by Bishop Koeckemann, by the Sacred Heart Congregation’s priests and sisters, by the Brothers of Mary and a crowd of Hawaiians of every faith who filled every available space in the church,” she said. “We Franciscan sisters and other devotees are pleased that your current bishop, Bishop Silva, also has deep appreciation of Blessed Marianne and wishes a first class relic in honor and remembrance of her for the Cathedral. The relic of bone fragments which will rest in the Cathedral where once she knelt before its altar in prayer is a physical, tangible reminder of this holy woman of God who more than fulfilled the hopes and prayers of all by her self-giving ministry to the people of Hawaii especially to those ‘abandoned and rejected by society.’”
The relic encased in a reliquary will be kept in St. Francis Convent Chapel in Manoa, Hi., until the start of its tour of the Islands on May 6.
Father John Berger and Alika Cullen at the Cathedral have arranged for Rob Young to construct a similar “outer reliquary” to that of Saint Damien’s for Blessed Marianne’s relic.
The reliquary is made of mahogany, the same wood as the one that holds Bl. Marianne’s remains in Syracuse. The artist, Steve Hale, who created the plumeria flowers on the main reliquary, incorporated that design into the small reliquary created to hold Bl. Marianne bone fragments. The plumeria flower was chosen as it was brought from Germany (Bl. Marianne birthplace) to Hawaii by a German physician in 1860, the year Bl. Marianne’s religious community was founded in Syracuse.
Sister Grace Anne Dillenschneider, OSF, Blessed Marianne Canonization Cause Vice-Postulator, was present in January 2005 at the exhumation of Blessed Marianne’s remains. She said the bone fragments were well preserved in the care of the Sisters of Saint Francis in Hawaii and then in the sisters’ watchful care at the Motherhouse complex in Syracuse.
Sister Grace Anne traveled to Utica, the hometown of Blessed Marianne, to have the bone fragments verified as authentic by a forensic anthropologist.
The relic of bone fragments of Blessed Marianne is classified as a firstclass relic. First class relics are body parts of those declared Blessed or Saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Second-class relics are items used by the saint. Included would be articles of clothing, a book, a rosary or even a fragment of the saint’s coffin. Third class relics are items, usually pieces of cloth or a holy card, that have been touched to a first or second class relic. The Catholic Church forbids the sale of first or second class relics, which are sacred objects.
“To those of us who venerate the first class relic of Blessed Marianne, it is not the bone fragments themselves that are meaningful but who they were part of and what they represent,” said Sister Davilyn Ah Chick OSF, who assisted the exhumation team in 2005. “The relic helps serve as a reminder of the holiness of her life, which inspires us to live virtuous lives. It also gives the occasion to pray more deeply for her intercession.”