VATICAN CITY -- A German-born nun who cared for leprosy patients on a Hawaiian island, and a Spanish sister who started a missionary society, were beatified yesterday in St. Peter's Basilica. The ceremony was led by a Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins of Portugal, a leading Vatican official representing Pope Benedict XVI.
Benedict's decision not to preside over the ceremony marked a shift from Pope John Paul II, who beatified and canonized more faithful than all of his predecessors over the past 500 years. John Paul, weather permitting, held his saint-making ceremonies in St. Peter's Square on Sunday mornings to encourage huge turnouts.
Benedict designated Martins, the head of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, to lead the beatification ceremony. (Beatification marks the last formal step before possible sainthood.)
Mother Marianne Cope, who was born in Germany and raised in New York, went to Hawaii in 1883 as a Franciscan nun to work with leprosy patients.
Mother Marianne died in 1918, at age 80. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of ''Treasure Island," wrote a poem in tribute to her.
Honored with her was the co-founder of a missionary society in Spain, Ascensione del Cuore di Gesu. Born Ascension Nicol Goni in Tafalla-Navarra, Spain, in 1868, she helped establish the Dominican Missionary Nuns of the Rosary. She died in 1940.
The cardinal praised Ascensione del Cuore di Gesu as ''one of the greatest missionaries of the past century."
Mother Marianne was born Barbara Koob in 1838 in Germany. In 1839, her family emigrated to upstate New York and became US citizens. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1862.
In 1883, Cope and six other Franciscan sisters volunteered to work at the Kalaupapa settlement on Molokai, with leprosy patients alongside a Belgian missionary, the Rev. Damien DeVeuster, who was beatified by John Paul in 1995.
Cope left a legacy of schools and orphanages, and the Sisters of St. Francis have cared for leprosy patients on Molokai since then.
Today, about three dozen patients with leprosy, or Hansen's disease, still live there.
Formally asking for Cope's beatification was Bishop James Moynihan of the Syracuse diocese.
'' 'I am not afraid of any disease,' " Moynihan quoted Cope as saying. '' 'It will be my greatest delight to minister to the abandoned leper.' "
To be beatified, a miracle attributed to the candidate's intercession after death must be certified by the pontiff. In December, John Paul approved the healing of a Syracuse teenager who had suffered multiple organ failure. The girl recovered after she was touched by a relic of Cope.
Before canonization, or sainthood, is conferred, another miracle, happening after beatification, must be certified by the Vatican.