Father Damien, also Blessed Damien of Molokai and born Joseph de Veuster (January 3, 1840 – April 15, 1889), was a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium and member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a missionary religious order.
Damien is most noted for his devotion to caring and ministering to people with what was then widely known as leprosy, forced by government-sanctioned medical segregation, and living on the island of Molokai in the Kingdom of Hawaii. In the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions, as well as other denominations of Christianity, Damien is considered the spiritual patron for Hansen's Disease, HIV and AIDS patients as well as outcasts. As the patron saint of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and of Hawaii, Father Damien Day is celebrated statewide on April 15. Upon his beatification towards canonization and sainthood by Pope John Paul II in 1995, Damien was given a memorial feast day, celebrated on May 10 on the church calendar and was conferred the official title of Blessed Damien of Molokai.
During the persecution of Catholics in Hawaii (circa 1849), many natives fled from Honolulu over the Pali trail to the windward side and settled in the Koolau area. Father Robert Walsh, SS.CC. (Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the same community as that of Father Damien of Molokai) began ministering to the Catholics. In 1841, Father Robert Martial Janvier, SS.CC. replaced Fr. Walsh and centered the mission in the Heeia area.Parish tradition has it that a village chief had gone to a Protestant Missionary asking for lamp oil. The missionary could not give him any oil. The chief then went to the Catholic mission (at that time located at Mokapu Point) and received his oil. In gratitude, the chief gave the missionaries a piece of property.
Mother Marianne was the first person beatified by Pope Benedict XVI and raised to the title of Blessed, awaiting canonization into sainthood. Her feast day is January 23 celebrated each year by her followers, especially her religious order, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse.
Mother Marianne was born in Heppenheim in the Grand Duchy of Hesse (Germany) and christened Maria Anna Barbara Koob. At the age of three her family moved to the United States, settling in the town of Utica, New York. She entered religious life by becoming a Franciscan nun.
Several memorials have been made to Damien worldwide. The Father Damien Statue honors the priest in bronze at the
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faith life in community.
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to our neighbor.
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Mother Marianne Cope traveled from Syracuse, New York to Honolulu, Hawai‘i in 1883 with six other nuns to answer a call for aid to the Hansen's disease suffers by King David Kalâkaua. In 1888, she moved to Kalaupapa to help the ailing Father Damien de Veuster. When the famed priest died, Mother Marianne Cope took over the care of the patients of Kalaupapa.In 1924 Saint Francis Convent in Honolulu was founded in her memory to train nurses to work with Hansen's disease patients. It is now Saint Francis School, which is a school for girls in grades 6-9.On May 14, 2005, after a young woman claimed she was miraculously cured of multiple organ failure after praying to Mother Marianne, Mother Marianne was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in a ceremony in Vatican City. Both she and Father Damien are awaiting confirmation as the first saints from Hawaii.Over 100 faithful followers from Hawai‘i attended the beatification ceremony. 300 followers from the Blessed Mother's religious order in New York were also in attendance. During the ceremony presided by Jose Cardinal Saraiva Martins, the Hawaiian song Makalapua was sung. The song was a favorite of Mother Marianne Cope.
Mother Marianne Cope(January 23, 1838 – August 9, 1918), was a Franciscan nun of the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis, a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church. Born in Heppenheim (Germany) and entered religious life in Syracuse, New York, she worked, lived and died for the lepers on the island of Moloka‘i in Hawai‘i. She was not herself inflicted by the disease, a fact arguably declared to be miraculous considering her close contact with the patients over the course of several years, earning her the title, Blessed Marianne of Moloka‘i.
United States Capitol while a full size replica stands in front of the Hawaii State Capitol. In 2005, Damien was honored with the title of De Grootste Belg, chosen as The Greatest Belgian throughout Belgian history in polling conducted by the Flemish public broadcasting service, VRT.
In both ecumenical religious and non-sectarian communities, Damien is being adopted as the symbol of how society should treat HIV/AIDS patients in defiance of the misconceptions of the disease, much like leprosy treatment was an outgrowth of misconceptions. Several Damien Centers have been established worldwide to serve people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
In the Church's very beginning in 1841, the missionaries established classes for the children in the district. At first, these classes were instructions about the Catholic faith; very quickly they included reading, writing, arithmetic, and a little geography.In 1871, a boarding school was established for eight boys by Fr. Mattias Limburg, SS.CC. The following year, 1872, a regular day school was started for boys and girls. The McCabe family was instrumental in running the school until the arrival of the Maryknoll Sisters in 1927.