Fr. Damien, born 1840 in Tremeloo, Belgium. He joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts volunteering for the mission to the Hawaiian Islands. In 1873 he went to work as a priest in a leper colony on the island of Molokai. He died from leprosy in 1889 aged 49. The testimony of the life he lived among the lepers of Molokai led to an intensive study of Hansens disease, eventually leading to a cure. Pope John Paul II beatified Damien in 1995. He was named a saint on Oct 11th 2009.
Last week on a plane, I had the blessing to
read Holy Man: Father Damien of Molokai by Gavan Daws. I
would highly recommend this book. It is an incredible account of one
man's self-sacrifice for Christ and his brothers and sisters. It is also a
rather ugly account of the relations between missionaries of different Christian
sects in Hawaii in the late 1800s. Lest Protestants take too much of the brunt
of this treatment, rest assured that the Catholic Church hierarchy also wows the
reader with its callousness. Still, at the center of the story is Fr. Damien,
about whom I learned so much of the struggles he encountered and his development
as a Christian. Plus, this was written in the 70s prior to his beatification and
canonization. I loved knowing that this has now occurred~~that St. Damien
continues to direct his efforts from heaven for the betterment of those down
here on earth. Must read! This is what sanctity looks like "in real
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