“In fulfillment of the commands of His Majesty, and to carry out the views of my colleagues of the Board of Health and the community in the erection of a Home for leper girls, I now present to Your Majesty, as Lady Patroness of this benevolent institution, named after Your Majesty, the keys of this Home.” (Gibson, Dedication of Kapiʻolani Home, November 9, 1885)
“Queen Kapiʻolani took the keys in her hand and proceeded to the door leading into the refectory. She put a key, especially marked, into the door, unlocked it, and then, withdrawing the key, handed it to the Reverend Mother Superior, with the remark:”
“’I deliver these keys to you.’ The President of the Board of Health then said: ‘By command of His Majesty the King I declare the Home now open.’” (Dedication of Kapiʻolani Home, November 9, 1885)
Kapi‘olani had visited Kalaupapa in 1884 to learn how she could assist those who were diagnosed with leprosy and exiled there, and she raised the funds to build the Kapiʻolani Home for Girls. (KCC)
Queen Kapiʻolani, Father Damien de Veuster (now Saint Damien,) Dr Eduard Arning and Mother Marianne (now Saint Marianne) recognized the need for a home for the non-infected children of the leprosy patients.
On November 9, 1885, the healthy girls living in Kalawao moved into Kapiʻolani Home on the grounds of the sisters’ convent at the Kaka’ako Branch Hospital. (Hawaii Catholic Herald)
“It will accommodate fifty inmates, besides the matron, and will be under the supervision and control of the Sisters of Charity, of whom there are now seven, including the Mother Superior attached to the Convent of their order, which is within the enclosure of the Branch Hospital.”
“The Home is a two-story building, on the mauka side of the Branch Hospital, and separated from it by a high fence. The building is 70 feet by 50 feet, and is surrounded by open-railed verandas, 10 feet wide, which furnish a cool and sheltered place for play in all weather.”
“On the ground floor, which is approached by a wide flight of steps to the lower veranda, are two store rooms, an office, class room and refectory. The last two are spacious rooms, well lighted and ventilated, the height of the ceiling being 13 feet 1 inch.
A wide flight of stairs on the outside loads to the upper floor, on which are situate two large dormitories, two bath rooms and matron’s room.”
“The arrangement of these dormitories deserves mention. The one on the mauka or land side, which is the breeziest, from the prevailing wind, will be occupied by girls who have developed the disease; the other will be occupied by girls who are as yet free from it, but who, having been born of leper parents, may be reasonably suspected of having the disease latent in their blood.”
“There will be no communication between these rooms. Separate closets and baths have been provided for each class of inmates. In this way it is hoped to minimize the risk of contagion, by preventing the clean breathing the same atmosphere with the unclean at night.”
“During the daytime, when there is a free circulation of air, the risk of contagion is so slight that it need hardly be estimated. At the same time it should be stated that no bad case of leprosy will be admitted to the Home, but only such as gives hopes of yielding to cleanliness, wholesome food, moderate exercise and kind and scientific treatment.”
“A notice of this kind would be incomplete were no mention made of the Branch Leper Hospital contiguous to the Home, and the noble Christian work performed therein by the Sisters of Charity. The Branch Hospital was established in 1881, and as in the case of the Leper Settlement at Molokai, it was not well managed at the outset, nor indeed, until after the arrival of the first party of the Sisters two years ago precisely yesterday.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, November 9, 1885)
“I had the honor to address the Bishop of Olba a letter, dated January 4, 1883, in which I informed His Lordship that the care of the sick poor of this Kingdom had most earnestly enlisted the sympathies of Their Majesties the King and Queen and awakened the solicitude of the Government) that they appreciated the necessity for trained and faithful nurses, and felt that nowhere could such invaluable assistance be obtained so readily as among the ranks of those blessed Sisterhoods of Charity, who have, in various parts of the earth devoted themselves to the care of the sick”. (Address by Gibson, President of the Board of Health)
From 50 other religious communities in the United States, only Mother Marianne’s Order of Sisters agreed to come to Hawaii to care for people with Hansen’s Disease (known then as leprosy.)
The Sisters arrived in Hawaii on November 8, 1883, dedicating themselves to the care of the 200 lepers in Kaka‘ako Branch Hospital on Oahu. This hospital was built to accommodate 100 people, but housed more than 200 people. (Cathedral of Our lady of Peace)
Kapiʻolani Home was devoted to the care of non-leprous girls of leprous parents, not yet confirmed as lepers, and others suspected of the disease.
Under the care of the Franciscan Sisters, the government has provided a home for many little girls born of leper parents. It is exceedingly rare that a child inherits leprosy, and even where both parents are lepers, if the child be removed before it has become infected with the disease there is small danger of its developing leprosy.
These non-leprous children are generally taken from their parents when 2 years of age. Sometimes friends of the family provide for them, and in other cases they are taken to the home.
Girls, ranging from 2 to 20 years of age, who are not only given a good school education, but trained in such branches of domestic work as are necessary to fit them to become useful members of the community thereafter.
This home is for girls, and is insufficient to accommodate the present number of inmates comfortably. There is a necessity for a similar institution for boys and for enlarging the present capacity of the Kapiʻolani Home. (Hawaiian Commission, September 8, 1898) (A Boys Home was later built in Kalihi.)
After the hospital closed in 1888, the home was moved three times: first, to a more suitable new building adjacent to the Kalihi Receiving Station; second, to a temporary camp in Waiakamilo when a typhoid epidemic closed the previous home in 1900; finally, in 1912 to Kalihi where the patients’ children were housed until 1938. (Hawaii Catholic Herald)
Mother Marianne died in Kalaupapa on August 9, 1918. The Sisters of St. Francis continue their work in Kalaupapa with victims of Hansen’s Disease. No sister has ever contracted the disease. (Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace)