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Blessed Damian of Molokai
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Blessed Damian of Molokai

About Blessed Damien of Molokai

Blessed Damien of Molokai was born on January 3, 1840 in Tremelo, Belgium.  His parents, Frans De Veuster and Cato Wouters named him, Jozef De Veuster.  He was their seventh child.

Blessed Damien attended Braine-le-Compte College and began his religious novitiate for the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.  While a novitiate, he changed his name from Jozef to Brother Damianus, the Dutch version of Damien.   He chose the name Damien in honor of Saint Damian.

Blessed Damien of Molokai Missionary

Blessed Damien of Molokai prayed each day before a statue of St. Francis Xavier that he would be assigned as a missionary to spread the word of Jesus Christ to others.  His wish came true three years after he took his vows.  Blessed Damien was given the role of missionary to Hawaii.

Blessed Damien Molokai Catholic Missionary 

North Kohala Mission, Hawaii

Blessed Damien  was ordained a priest in 1864 and was sent to the North Kohala Mission.  During this time, Hawaii was devastated by diseases brought on ships from foreign countries.  The people of Hawaii were afflicted with syphilis, influenza, and leprosy.  Thousands of native people died from these foreign diseases.

Blessed Damien Missionary to Lepers

The lepers were banished to settlements on the east side of Molokai for fear of spreading the disease to the rest of the native people.  A high mountain range divided the leper colony from the rest of the peninsula.  The lepers suffered in isolation with inadequate medical supplies, food, and water.
 
Disregarding his own well-being, Blessed Damien of Molokai was the first priest to volunteer to begin a mission in the leper colony.  Three other priests also volunteered, and in May of 1873, they traveled to the leper colony in Kalaupapa.  At the time, 816 lepers resided in Kalaupapa.

Blessed Damien changed the bandages of the lepers, built extra beds, housing, coffins, and dug the graves for the dead onto of his priestly duties.  He organized the lepers so they could grow their own food, built schools for the leper children, and started the Parish of Saint Philomena.
 
Blessed Damien of Molokai Contracts Leprosy

In 1884, Blessed Damien discovered he had leprosy when he put his foot in bath water so hot that it caused blisters, yet he could not feel it.  In spite of the disease, Blessed Damien worked diligently to continue caring for the lepers and erect more homes for them.  He wanted to complete as much work as possible before becoming too ill to continue.

Father Damien succumbed to leprosy on April 15, 1889 when he was 49 years old.  He was buried in Molokai but later moved to his home in Belgium.  Since that time, the popularity of Blessed Damien of Molokai has grown throughout Catholicism and many Catholics wear Blessed Damien of Molokai jewelry in his honor.  A Blessed Damien of Molokai medal is a symbol of his great sacrifice for the people of Molokai.  Blessed Damien Molokai Medal Pendant


 

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