Saint Damien of Molokai
Today is the Feast day of Saint Damien of Molokai. Here is his heroic story and why he is known as Damien the Leper.
St Josef Damien De Veuster was born in Belgium on January 3, 1840. He changed his name to Damien in 1859 when he began his initiative with the congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He prayed every day to be sent on a mission. In 1863 his brother was scheduled to go on a mission to Hawaii, he got sick and couldn’t go. Damien got permission and took his place. He landed in Honolulu on March 19, 1864. Two days later he was ordained as a priest.
During his mission there was an epidemic of Leprosy. The Hawaiian government thought it was an incurable disease and decided to quarantine anyone infected by deporting them to the neighboring island of Molokai. During the whole mission he worried about the abandoned lepers. The bishop felt sure that they needed a priest, but didn’t want to send them knowing that it would be a death sentence. So all four brothers volunteered and Damien was the first to go. He left for Kalaupapa on May 10, 1873.
Damien remained on Molokai for 16 years. He died on April 15, 1889. He was 49 years old.
His remains were exhumed in 1936 and sent to a crypt in the Church of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts at Louvain.
Damien De Veuster was canonized on October 11, 2009.
Peace be with you,