Here’s an interesting article from the San Francisco Chonicle that takes note of the active cause of canonization for Blessed Damien de Veuster, better known as Damien of Molokai. This past summer, the final miracle necessary for his canonization was approved by the Vatican, and this article suggests that Damien’s sainthood may come “most likely late next year.”
I had not realized that the Kalaupapa Peninsula, the area of Molokai Island where Fr. Damien lived, ministered, and died, is still home to some leprosy patients, and it takes an approved permit to visit there, out of respect for the residents’ privacy. The article notes that Hansen’s Disease (as leprosy is known today)
has been curable since the development of sulfone drugs in the 1940s, and people treated with drugs aren’t contagious. Hawaii did away with the exile policy in 1969.
Patients sent here before 1969 are free to leave, but many have chosen to stay because it has become their home.
The state has promised to keep the settlement open and care for patients until the last one dies. The youngest is now 67.
In related news, a local article published yesterday notes that a new church dedicated to Fr. Damien is about to be built on Molokai Island.
Damien will be a wonderful addition to the Church’s roll of the saints. In the meantime, Blessed Damien of Molokai, pray for us!
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