My home town is Utica, N.Y. Yesterday in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI canonized several new saints. Two of them had Utica ties.

Recall my Cousin Rose who died two years ago. A nun. A black Franciscan nun. My Cousin constantly prayed to Marianne Cope, a black Franciscan nun who died some 100 years ago. Rose believed that some day Marianne Cope would be as a saint.

Yesterday, Marianne Cope became a Saint. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.

Marianne Cope was born in Germany. Her family came to America and settled in Utica. Marianne was raised in Utica. Later in life, she became a nun and served as Mother Superior of her Order in Syracuse, N.Y. The Third Order of St. Francis. It is popularly referred to as the black Franciscans. The black denoting the color of the habit Marianne Cope and her sister nuns wore.

Marianne Cope’s major undertaking which gave her a seat at the right hand of God was neither her Utica upbringing nor her stewardship of the black Franciscans. It was her work with lepers.

Leprosy was and is a dreaded disease. Years ago, lepers were herded off like animals to one of the Hawaiin islands. Moloki. Marianne Cope opted to help the lepers. She lived and worked among them for many years. She assisted the already sainted Father Damien.

Kateri Tekokwiths was aslo canonized yesterday. A Native American. The first Native American to become a Saint.

Kateri was born in Auriesville, N.Y. Aurieville is 40 miles east of Utica.

Upstate New York was Indian country. The Mohawks were an Iroquois tribe residing in the area encompassing Utica and Auriesville. Today, the valley Utica sits in is known as the Mohawk Valley.

Kateri was born of an Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father. She has become known religiously over the years as Lily of the Mohawks. Her life was brief and rugged. She was persecuted for her Catholicism. Kateri died at age 24 in Canada.

So it was, so it is.

The story of these two blessed ladies overwhelms my Key West experiences of yesterday.

A blessed day to you!

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