28 Facts About Father Damien

1. Father Damien died peacefully on April 15, 1889, on Molokai after 16 years of undaunted dedication.

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2. Father Damien was born Joseph de Veuster in Tremelo, Belgium, on January 3, 1840.

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3. Father Damien continued his work, despite his illness, which slowly took over his body.

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4. Father Damien realized the people needed leadership, so he provided it.

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5. Father Damien made the trip to be with these people in their colony.

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6. Father Damien prayed each day before an icon of Saint Francis Xavier to be sent on a mission.

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7. Father Damien demonstrated his ability by quickly learning Latin from his brother.

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8. Father Damien was too uneducated to become a priest, although he was not considered unintelligent.

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9. Father Damien tried to do everything to improve people's living for 16 years.

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10. Father Damien was born Joseph de Veuster in Tremeloo, Belgium, on Jan 3, 1840, of pious and sturdy Flemish peasant stock.

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11. Father Damien said: "They knew they could never raise the fighters to this level of enthusiasm again.

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12. Father Damien said: "The Germans had become very brutal in their reprisals against the Italian resistance.

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13. Father Damien said: "He told the air crew to report he fell out by accident, so HQ believed him dead.

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

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15. 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.

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16. Father Damien had tuberculosis, then incurable, and was seeking some relief.

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

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18. Father Damien was laid to rest under the same pandanus tree where he first slept upon his arrival on Molokai.

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

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20. Father Damien had faith in the treatments and said he wanted to be treated by no one but Goto, who eventually became good friends with Father Damien.

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

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

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

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24. 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.

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

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26. Father Damien was the tenth person in what is the United States to be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.

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

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28. Father Damien won recognition for his ministry from 1873 to 1889 in the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi to people with leprosy, who were required to live under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Molokai on the Kalaupapa Peninsula.

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