42 Facts About Father Damien


Father Damien cared for the patients and established leaders within the community to build houses, schools, roads, hospitals, and churches.


Father Damien dressed residents' ulcers, built a reservoir, made coffins, dug graves, shared pipes, and ate poi with them, providing both medical and emotional support.


Father Damien continued with his work despite the infection but finally succumbed to the disease on 15 April 1889.


Father Damien had tuberculosis which worsened his condition, but some believe that the reason he volunteered in the first place was due to his illness of tuberculosis.


Father Damien has been described as a "martyr of charity".


Father Damien is the patron saint of the Diocese of Honolulu and of Hawaii.


Father Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on 11 October 2009.


Father Damien was born Jozef De Veuster, the youngest of seven children and fourth son of the Flemish corn merchant Joannes Franciscus De Veuster and his wife Anne-Catherine Wouters in the village of Tremelo in Flemish Brabant in rural Belgium on 3 January 1840.


Father Damien's father sent him to a college at Braine-le-Comte to prepare for a commercial profession, but as a result of a mission given by the Redemptorists in 1858, Joseph decided to pursue a religious vocation.


Father Damien was admitted to the religious profession on 7 Oct 1860.


Father Damien's superiors thought that he was not a good candidate for the priesthood because he lacked education.


Father Damien was ordained into the priesthood on 21 May 1864, at what is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace.


On 10 May 1873, the first volunteer, Father Damien, arrived at the isolated settlement at Kalaupapa, where there were then 600 lepers, and was presented by Bishop Louis Maigret.


Father Damien worked with them to build a church and establish the Parish of Saint Philomena.


Father Damien aided the colony by teaching, painting houses, organizing farms, and organizing the construction of chapels, roads, hospitals, and churches.


Father Damien dressed residents, dug graves, built coffins, ate food by hand with lepers, shared pipes with them, and lived with the lepers as equals.


Father Damien served as a priest during this time and spread the Catholic faith to the lepers; it is said that Father Damien told the lepers that despite what the outside world thought of them, they were always precious in the eyes of God.


Some historians believed that Father Damien was a catalyst for a turning point for the community.


Father Damien's work was reported to Europeans and Americans in order to raise funds for the mission.


Consequently, Father Damien became internationally known in the United States and Europe.


Father Damien worked in Hawaii for 16 years, providing comfort to the lepers of Kalaupapa.


Father Damien prayed at the cemetery of the deceased and he comforted the dying at their bedsides.


In December 1884, while he was preparing to bathe, Father Damien inadvertently put his foot into scalding water, causing his skin to blister.


Father Damien felt nothing and realized that he had contracted leprosy after working in the colony for 11 years.


Father Damien believed that leprosy was caused by a diminution of the blood.


Father Damien's treatment consisted of nourishing foods, moderate exercise, frequent friction to the benumbed parts, special ointments, and medical baths.


Father Damien was bedridden on 23 March 1889, and on 30 March, he made a general confession.


In January 1936, at the request of King Leopold III of Belgium and the Belgian government, Father Damien's body was returned to his native land in Belgium.


Father Damien was buried in Leuven, the historic university city which is close to the village where he was born.


Father Damien had become internationally known before his death, because he was seen as a symbolic Christian figure who spent his life caring for the afflicted natives.


Father Damien had tuberculosis, a disease which was considered incurable, and he was seeking some relief for it.


Father Damien spoke with residents of various religious backgrounds in order to learn more about Damien's work.


Stevenson's letter became the most famous account of Father Damien, featuring him in the role of a European who was aiding a benighted native people.


Mahatma Gandhi said that Father Damien's work had inspired his social campaigns in India, leading to the independence of his people and the securing of aid for needy Indians.


In 1977, Pope Paul VI declared Father Damien to be venerable.


Father Damien was canonized on 11 October 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.


Father Damien underwent surgery a year later and a tumor was removed, but the cancer metastasized to her lungs.


On 21 February 2009, the Vatican announced that Father Damien would be canonized.


In Washington, DC, President Barack Obama affirmed his deep admiration for St Father Damien, saying that he gave voice to the voiceless and dignity to the sick.


In 2005, Father Damien was honored with the title of De Grootste Belg, chosen as "The Greatest Belgian" throughout that country's history, in polling conducted by the Flemish public broadcasting service, VRT.


Father Damien ranked third on Le plus grand Belge in a poll by the French-speaking public channel RTBF.


Father Damien House, Ireland, is a centre for "peace for families and individuals affected by bereavement, stress, violence, and other difficulties with particular attention to Northern Ireland".