Syracuse museum tells story of St. Marianne Cope

Jul 2, 2014

A museum and shrine honoring St. Marianne Cope is ready for visitors. The center will honor a woman raised in central New York and who became a saint two years ago.

The museum sits on North Townsend Street, in the shadow of St. Joseph’s Hospital on Syracuse’s northside.  Cope was one of the founders of St. Joe’s and current CEO Kathryn Ruscitto says there will always been a connection.

“The reason we are such a unique institution is because of the roots that started with St. Marianne,” Ruscitto said. “So we are just delighted to have it on our campus.”

A cross hangs on the wall at the St. Marianne Cope museum.
A cross hangs on the wall at the St. Marianne Cope museum.
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The museum tells a story of a German immigrant, raised in Utica, who moved to Syracuse to join the Sisters of St. Francis. After helping found Saint Joe’s and instituting many innovative healthcare techniques, she followed the call to serve lepers on a remote island in Hawaii.

Sister Geraldine Ching wants Cope’s life of selflessness to rub off on visitors.

“I would hope that they would be inspired by someone’s life,” Ching said. “And someone who lived right here.  I hope people can take that as an example that we can all, in some way, do good for other people and make the world a better place.”

While Cope spent 30 years working with leprosy patients on the Island of Kalaupapa, and her remains are there, her connection to central New York is important, according to Bishop Robert Cunningham.

"Syracuse gave her the foundation,” Cunningham said. “And unless you build a house on a solid foundation, it doesn’t survive. Syracuse gave her the foundation of her faith and religious life, and  then she went off to Hawaii to share it.”

A figurine of St. Marianne Cope.
A figurine of St. Marianne Cope.
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO

There will be several masses in the next few days celebrating the opening of the museum. Bishop Cunningham presided at one mass, noting that the recently sainted Mother Marianne should be an example to all.

“I think always ready to help others, always ready to serve,” Cunningham said. “A wonderful example of Christian living and fidelity to a vocation, which we need today.”  

The museum will be open to the general public July 9.