A small country with a Holy Father
Damien was born as Jozef ("Jef") De Veuster as the seventh child in the family. Following in the footsteps of his brother Auguste (Father Pamphile), Damien became a Picpus Brother On March 19, 1864, Father Damien landed at Honolulu Harbor in downtown Honolulu as a missionary.
The Native Hawaiians became afflicted by diseases inadvertently introduced to their islands by foreign traders and sailors. Thousands died of influenza, syphilis and other ailments which had never before affected them. This included the plight of leprosy .Damien’s arrival is seen by some as a turning point for the community. Under his leadership, basic laws were enforced, shacks became painted houses, working farms were organized and schools were erected.
As indicated in his diaries, in December 1884 Damien went about his evening ritual of soaking his feet in boiling water. He could not feel the heat because he had contracted leprosy. Despite this discovery, residents say that Damien worked vigorously to build as many homes as he could and planned for the continuation of the programs he created after he was gone. Father Damien died of leprosy at 8.00am on April 15, 1889, aged 49.In 1936, the Belgian government asked for his body to be returned to native soil. It was brought back aboard the Belgian sailing ship Mercator and now rests in Leuven, an historic university city close to the village where Damien was born. After his beatification, the remains of the right hand were returned to Hawaii.
He gave his life for the people with leprosy
and to morrow october 11 th in the Vatican Pope Benedict XVI will make him Holy..