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Pilgrims arrive in Syracuse to visit grave of future saint

By Dan Nakaso

LAST UPDATED: 8:40 a.m. HST, Oct 13, 2012

SYRACUSE, N.Y. >> Nine Hansen's disease patients from Kalaupapa arrived here today after more than 20 hours of travel to honor Mother Marianne Cope, who will become Hawaii's second saint for her work with Hansen's disease patients on Molokai.

The patients were weary but excited to visit Syracuse, where Cope's remains were taken following her 1918 death from kidney and heart disease and original burial in Kalaupapa, Molokai.

The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse also have erected a museum in Cope's honors that the patients and nearly 100 others from Hawaii will visit on Sunday.

In all, 104 travelers from Hawaii made the long, overnight series of airline flights that began Friday and took them from Honolulu to San Francisco, then to either Newark, New Jersey or Washington, D.C., before finally landing in Syracuse this morning.

"I haven't slept yet," Hansen's disease patient John Arruda said this morning. "I'm tired. Very tired."

But the patients also are excited to see where Cope began her journey in New York that took her to the remote Kalaupapa peninsula, said Hansen's disease patient Clarence "Boogie" Kahilihiwa, who made the journey with his wife, Ivy.

While 104 people traveled to New York to honor Cope, a total of 247 people from Hawaii will see her elevated to sainthood Oct. 21 in St. Peter's Square in Rome, Italy, where Saint Damien was canonized in 2009 for his work with Hansen's disease patients in Kalaupapa.

The patients and their caregivers will leave Syracuse for Rome on Monday.

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