On July 23, 2023, I received an email with a picture of a stained-glass window of Saint Damien. I was not expecting this picture as I had asked for a picture of Saint Charbel. Well, I figured it was another saint God was sending to me to learn and to write about. I am adding Saint Damien to my repertoire of saints.
Born: January 3, 1840, in Tremelo, Belgium
Died: April 15, 1889, (aged 49), Molokai, Hawaii [U.S.A].
Canonized: October 11, 2009; by Pope Benedict XVI
Feast Day: May 10,
Major Shrine: Leuven, Belgium (bodily relics)
Molokai Hawaii (relics of his hand)
St. Damien of Molokai, also called Father Damien, original name Joseph de Veuster. Joseph de Veuster was born in rural Belgium, the youngest of seven children. In 1858 he joined the Society of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Picpus Fathers)at Leuven, Belgium. Father Damien was a Belgian priest who devoted his life to missionary work among the Hawaiian lepers.
When those, by Father Damien's bedside, grieved that he was leaving them orphaned, Fr Damien replied: “Oh, no! If I have any credit with God, I’ll intercede for everyone.” (Read more about Father Damien’s life on www.marialanakila.org, Maria Lanakila Catholic Church.)
Wednesday, August 23, 2023, I was looking through my books in the basement when I came across this book, Damien, Hero of Molokai by Omer Englebert. I highly recommend this book to read.
Friday, August 25, 2013, I watched a 1999 movie, Molokai, The Story of Father Damien. Wow what an amazing priest. He volunteered to go to Molokaito see the needs of the people who had leprosy and he stayed never to return home again. Once he was asked how many people lived there. He replied 1000 and 600 are non-Catholics. Father Damien ministered to all the people who had been outcaste by society for having leprosy. He built houses and coffins. He cleaned wounds and cared for the people of Molokai. He celebrated Mass and listened to confessions.
Most importantly he brought the love of Jesus to each one of them. There is one scene in the above-mentioned movie where he went to a house to rescue a young girl from the hands of individuals who would do her harm. As he turned to leave the people there starting shouting: (Quote): “Bring Jimmy.”(End quote). Someone picked up a man with no legs and carried him to confront Fr Damien. Jimmy reached over and kissed Fr Damien on the cheek. Everyone went silent as Fr Damien did not react but only looked at them. He then looked Jimmy in the eyes, and he reached his arm around Jimmy’s head and drew Jimmy to his chest and said, (Quote): I cannot know your pain except in my heart. There is a God that if you believe in Him, you feel Him.” (End Quote.)
In this exchange between Fr Damien and Jimmy, I could feel the love of Jesus. In this moment looking at Jimmy’s face I could see how Jimmy felt the love of Jesus through Fr Damien. Maybe it had been a very long time since Jimmy had been touched or held with such love. I highly recommend watching the movie, Molokai, The Story of Father Damien(1999).
There is a church called Maria Lanakila, which means Our Lady of Victory, in Lahaina Hawaii. Father Damien served at this church for 9 years before going to Molokai. August 2023 there was a devastating fire in Lahaina. Miraculously the church and the priest residence were untouched by the fire while the surrounding area was completely burned down.
Dear Saint Damien of Molokai, you have shown great compassion to all those in need. Help us to have the same compassion for others. Help us to love without boundaries so we may see Jesus in all whom we meet just as you did with the people of Molokai Hawaii. In Jesus name I pray who is both human and Divine. Amen.
Author: Joan M. Ferrer