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Kalaupapa patients get audience with pope

By Dan Nakaso

LAST UPDATED: 1:31 p.m. HST, Oct 17, 2012

ROME » Pope Benedict XVI came within a few feet of nine Hansen's disease patients from Kalaupapa, Molokai in St. Peter's Square today during a ceremony in which the pope thanked "Hawaiian dancers for their performances."

The patients, who made the nearly 10,000-mile pilgrimage to the Vatican to witness Sunday's canonization of Mother Marianne Cope for her work in Kalaupapa, got a front row seat for Wednesday's "papal audience" attended by thousands of people crammed inside St. Peter's Square.

Under a glorious blue sky, today's event represented one of the many highlights so far for more than 200 Hawaii residents who began their pilgrimage Friday in Syracuse and Utica, New York, where Cope began her own journey to Hawaii in 1883, en route to her work worthy of a saint in Kalaupapa.

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