Holy hula hands

The hula halau performed in front of an expected 1,000 people Friday night during a reception at the Vatican Museums Gardens.









Tonight the Vatican Museums transformed into the site of an intimate hula festival honoring not royalty, but a saint.

Mother Marianne pilgrims from Hawaii were invited to join other Marianne pilgrims from Syracuse as well as pilgrims celebrating Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha for a reception at the Vatican Gardens. The occasion: Both Marianne and Kateri are considered American saints (even though Marianne was born in Germany, her family moved to New York while she was still a baby and her good works were done in the U.S.), and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See sought to honor the two women as they become saints.

A big portion of the reception was dedicated to a beautiful hula performance by members of Keali’ika’apunihonua Ke’ena A’o Hula, a halau led by Leimomi Ho. The dances, both in kahiko (traditional) and ‘auana (modern) styles, chronicled Marianne’s life, love for God and the Hawaiians’ recognition of and respect for a higher power.

I was far from the front, but I believe this is Leimomi Ho, the halau’s kumu hula. She danced solo and also joined the other members in a song or two.









The sounds of chanting and vibrant ‘ukulele strumming echoed throughout the garden as the halau’s graceful dancing captured everyone’s attention. Who would have guessed that someday hula would come to the Vatican? This trip has been chock-full of once-in-a-lifetime events, and it is such a blessing to be able to witness them.

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