Queen Kapiʻolani and St. Marianne of Molokaʻi

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I was rereading some of the letters of St. Marianne (Cope) of Moloka’i from Queen Kapi’olani. Queen Kapi’olani was a devout Anglican but had a close relationship with the Roman Catholic community especially with Fr. Leonor Fouesnel and Mother Marianne Cope.  Fr. Leonor was the private chaplain to the Queen and to the Queenʻs two sisters. When it came to faith, the Queen beloved that love of oneʻs God and of all His creation was above any doctrinal differences. When the Queenʻs sister, the Princess Kekaulike was on her death bed, Fr. Leonor was asked the bless the princess and to bring some nuns. That is when Mother Marianne Cope met the Queen. Mother Marianne was at that time helping the leper station at Kakaʻako and was newly arrived to the islands. As early as 1874, King Kalākaua and Queen Kapiʻolani wrote to over 50 churches world wide for help for Kalaupapa and only the Roman Catholic Order of the Sacred Heart answered and sent priests and nuns–among them two saints, St. Damien and St. Marianne. Mother Marianne gave up New York and volunteered to go to Hawaiʻi to help those with those with Hansenʻs disease. Upon meeting Mother Marianne, Queen Kapiʻolani embraced her and gave her a US$100 bill in her hand and said, “This wonʻt be the last” and then “You are my Sisters. I love you and you will always be my Sisters.”

When Mother Marianne arrived on Molokaʻi, the Queen began sending $100 per month out of her private funds to help Kalaupapa particularly the women and children. When Mother Marianne wrote to the Queen to ask for addition funds to build houses for women, a new public hospital on Maui for those afflicated with Hansenʻs disease, and for a home for female children who had their parents deported to Molokaʻi, Queen Kapiʻolani did not hesitant to give funds including selling off some of her own properties for to help provide. The Queen never published or wrote about her efforts, just as Mother Marianne never sought fame or admiration for her work. Both lived under the motto of Aloha Ke Akua (God is Love) and believed that.

Both Father Damien and Mother Marianne would come under attack by the Calvinist pastors in Honolulu who the King once called a “miserable lot” but both Robert Louis Stevenson and Queen Kapiʻolani were steadfast supporters, despite both of them being Protestants. When Queen Kapiʻolani passed in 1899, Mother Marianne is said to have wept for her “Sister in Christ” and said something to the effect that the Queen was a star shining love to her people to one of the other nuns. (Queen Kapiʻolaniʻs first part of her first name was Esther which means “star”). Though the same could of those who helped those afflicted with Hansenʻs disease like Sts. Marianne Cope and Damien.

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