Central New York will have its own saint when Mother Marianne Cope is canonized in the Vatican on Sunday, October 21.
Bishop Robert Cunningham is the spiritual leader of a pilgrimage that left Syracuse Monday for Rome. Most of those traveling are members of the Sisters of St. Francis, the religious order that Cope joined in 1862.
Sister Roberta Smith, the general minister of what is now the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, says this is a huge event for a group that came together in 2004, shortly before the road to sainthood for Cope really took off.
"We feel like Mother Marianne has been a part of our life as a new community, as a new entity coming together, three communities and then four communities coming together, sort of like a blessing or if anybody might want to say, providential. You might say coincidental, we say providential. So it is a high point and it feels like a blessing," she said.
Cope was a German immigrant, who was raised in Utica. During her years in Syracuse, she helped found two hospitals, including St. Joseph's. She spent the final 35 years of her life ministering to lepers on a remote island in Hawaii, and never returned to central New York. The Sisters of Saint Francis Motherhouse in Syracuse is the site of a shrine that includes her remains.