Will Make Several Stops from Rome to Hawaii
HONOLULU, Hawaii, SEPT. 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- After Father Damien, the “apostle to the lepers” is canonized by Benedict XVI next month, his relic will make stops in several cities on its way back home. The Honolulu Diocese announced this on a special Web site it created for the upcoming Oct. 11 canonization of Blessed Jozef Damien de Veuster, a Belgian priest who dedicated his life to ministering to people with Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy, in a colony in Hawaii. The site offers details about Blessed Damien’s life, prayers, videos, photos, a gift shop and details for a pilgrimage to Belgium and Rome for the canonization ceremony. It was created by a volunteer committee of professionals in Hawaii to celebrate the upcoming ceremony.
Bishop Clarence Silva of Honolulu stated, “We pray that Father Damien will inspire us all to reach out to those most in need, to make a real difference in their lives, and to serve them with the love of Christ.” On the day the priest is declared a saint in the Vatican, the prelate will be given a relic to carry back to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu, where Damien was ordained in 1864.
Although he was buried in Kalaupapa, on the island of Molokai, when he died in 1889, his body was exhumed and moved to his birthplace in Belgium in 1936. In 1995, when Father Damien was beatified, a relic was sent back to Hawaii to be reinterred in the original grave near the leper colony where he worked until he himself died of the disease. Now, a second relic will be given to Hawaii, for veneration in its capital city, Honolulu. On its way back from Rome, it will make stops in Detroit, Michigan, San Francisco and Oakland, California.
It will then travel between the Hawaiian islands until it is brought to its resting place in a Nov. 1 procession and interfaith service at the Iolani Palace. The Honolulu Advertiser reported that the relic will be brought to Kalaupapa on Oct. 31, where students will carry it down an hour hike to the location of the leper colony. The relic will be accompanied on the entire tour by either the bishop or a priest designated to take his place.
Bishop Silva affirmed, “The presence of the relic draws us closer to the person in the hope that we can be inspired to love God and give ourselves for our neighbor even as Father Damien did.”
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