Jan. 23 officially became Saint Marianne Cope's Day here in Hawaii after Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed House Bill 2539 into Law Tuesday.
"We never thought the government that would declare this day," said Sister Rose Annette Ahuna, a sister of Saint Francis.
The Sisters of St. Francis were able to witness the declaration, and along with those who adore Saint Marianne, are thrilled.
"It's been a long time coming. The sisters have been researching," said Sister Ahuna. "As you know the Catholic diocese has to go through a long process to make this happen."
It all started when then-sister Marianne Cope traveled on the S.S. Mariposa docked here at Honolulu Harbor. She came to answer the call from King Kalakaua to help those suffering from Hansen disease. Something the Sisters of St. Francis are proud of.
"She opened up her arms to all the islanders regardless of their nationality, creed or career," said Sister Ahuna.
Through her efforts she brought 75 sisters from Hawaii into the convent and spent many years on Molokai helping lepers in Kalaupapa.
"A Franciscan gift to the people of Hawaii," said Sister Ahuna.
In 2012, Pope Benedict canonized Sister Marianne as a saint and now, another unforgettable event for the Sisters of Saint Francis.
"Her spirit is here with us," said Sister Ahuna.
Jan. 23 was chosen because it's Saint Marianne Cope's feast day. Saint Francis officials say no doubt next year the holiday will be celebrated in a very special way.
Mother Marianne is only the second person, after Father Damien, who had served in Hawaii to be canonized. She is also only the 11th American citizen to receive the Roman Catholic Church's highest honor.