VATICAN CITY – Blessed Damien de Veuster, a missionary priest who served patients with Hansen’s disease in Hawaii, will be canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct 11 at the Vatican, the Vatican said.
The same day the pope will also canonise Blessed Jeanne Jugan, who founded the Little Sisters of the Poor, and three others.The pope presided over a Feb 21 consistory that gave final approval for the canonisation of 10 people, including Blessed Damien, a Belgian-born member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. (The priests at Blessed Sacrament Church in Queenstown are from the same order.)
Born in 1840, Blessed Damien spent the last 16 years of his life caring for patients with Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, on the island of Molokai. He died in 1889 and was beatified in 1995.
Last July, Pope Benedict authorised the publication of a decree recognising a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Damien, clearing the way for his canonisation.
At Molokai, he served as pastor, doctor, adviser and guardian to the approximately 800 residents suffering from leprosy. He later won permission to minister permanently at the settlement and eventually founded two orphanages there.
Blessed Damien died there five years after contracting leprosy. He continued to work until a month before his death.
n BLESSED JEANNE JUGAN, born in 1792 in France’s Brittany region, is the patroness of the elderly. In 1839, she opened her home to a sick and blind elderly woman.
Eventually, other women came to help Blessed Jeanne, and today the Little Sisters of the Poor care for more than 13,000 needy elderly men and women around the world. (The home for the elderly at Upper Thomson Road used to be run by the Little Sisters of the Poor.)
Blessed Damien de Veuster is pictured in bed shortly before he died in 1889 at the Kalawao settlement on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. CNS photo