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St. Damien is known as the Leper Priest and the Hero of Moloka'i. Born in Tremelo in Belgium on January 3, 1840, he was son of a farmer and his wife.

He lived a devout life and in 1860 obtained permission to join the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Although born Jozef De Veuster, the young brother took the name Damien in religious life. In 1864, in answer to his prayers to St. Francis Xavier, he was sent as a missionary to Honolulu, Hawaii. Here he applied himself to diligent study to compensate for his lack of an early education, and he was ordained to the sacred priesthood on May 21.

For the next nine years Fr. Damien worked in various missions throughout Hawaii.

Wishing to do more to help God’s suffering people, Fr. Damien volunteered as a missionary priest to the leper community on the island of Moloka'i. His offer was accepted by Bishop Louis Désiré Maigret, the Vicar Apostolic of Honolulu and on May 10, 1873 Damien was formerly presented by the bishop to the flock of his new mission.

Fr. Damien’s first course of action was to build a church for the inhabitants of the colony of Moloka'i and to establish the Parish of St. Philomena. He was not just an ordinary parish priest to his large flock, he went out "into the highways and byways,” dressing ulcers, building proper homes and furniture for his parishioners, making coffins and digging graves. “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all for Jesus Christ,” he wrote of himself to his brother.

Under his leadership, working farms were organized, basic laws enforced, and hospitals, schools and orphanages established, for Fr. Damien had a particular concern and care for the children of his mission.

Contracting leprosy himself in 1885, Fr. Damien continued to work vigorously to build as many homes as he could and made plans for the continuation of the programs he had established for after he was gone.

The Hero of Maloka'i died of leprosy in the early morning of April 15, 1889, at the age of 49.

After his funeral Mass at St. Philomena's the next day, the whole leper colony of Moloka'i followed the funeral cortège to the cemetery where Damien was laid to rest under the same pandanus tree where he had slept upon his arrival at the mission.

St. Damien of Moloka'i was canonized on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI who held the Leper Priest up as one who "teaches us to choose the good fights, not those that lead to division, but those that gather us together in unity."

 


 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 27, 2021

Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the g...

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January 27

 

Pray with great confidence, with confidence
based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God
and upon the promises of Jesus Christ.
God is a spring of living water
which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.

St. Louis de Montfort


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Angela Merici

Angela was much distressed when her sister suddenly died wit...

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St. Angela Merici

Angela de Merici was born in Desenzano, on the southwestern shore of beautiful Lake Garda, in northern Italy. Left an orphan at the age of ten with an older sister and a brother, they were taken in by an uncle living in the neighboring town of Salò.

Angela was much distressed when her sister suddenly died without the assistance of the last sacraments. At this time she had a vision, the first of many in her life, which set her mind at rest as to her sister’s salvation. In gratitude, she made a special consecration of herself to God, joined the Third Order of St. Francis and began to lead a life of great austerity.

After her uncle died when she was twenty, Angela moved back to Desenzano. Convinced of the need to instruct young girls in the Faith, she converted her home into a school. In a vision, she was shown that she would found a congregation for the instruction of young girls. Angela talked with fellow Franciscan tertiaries and friends who began to help her. Though petite in stature, Angela had looks, charm and leadership. Her school thrived and she was approached about starting a similar school in the larger city of Brescia where she came in contact with leading families whom she influenced with her great ideals.

In 1525 on a pilgrimage to Rome, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her holiness, suggested she found a congregation of nursing sisters in Rome. But Angela who felt called elsewhere and shunned publicity, declined and returned to Brescia.

On November 25, 1535, with twelve other virgins, Angela Merici laid the foundations for her order for the teaching of young women, the first congregation of its kind in the Church. She placed her order under the protection of St. Ursula the patroness of medieval universities and popularly venerated as a leader of women. To this day her followers are known as the Ursulines.

Angela died only five years after establishing the Ursulines, and was canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.

Photo by: Benoit Lhoest

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a con...

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Our Lady and the Three Dresses

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

One day, their priest-confessor advised them that, as a preparation for the feast of the purification of Mary, they should recite the whole Rosary every day for forty days. The three nuns obediently complied.

On the night before that holy feast day, the Heavenly Mother appeared to the three nuns as they gathered in the choir. To the first of these three sisters she handed a rich garment, embroidered with gold. Holy Mary thanked her and blessed her.

She then handed to the second nun a much simpler garment, and also thanked her. Noticing the difference in the two garments, the second sister asked, "Oh Lady, why have you brought my sister a richer garment?" Mary Most Holy lovingly replied, "Because she has clothed me more richly with her prayers than you have done."

Mary then approached the third nun with a canvas garment. Being an observant young lady, this sister at once asked pardon for the half-hearted way in which she had prayed her rosaries.

A full year had passed when all three fervently prepared for the same feast, each saying her Rosary with great devotion. On the evening preceding the festival, Mary appeared to them in glory, and said to them: "Be prepared, for tomorrow you shall come to paradise."

The following morning dawned, full of promise. Each nun wondered if this would be her last day in this vale of tears. When evening came, would they retire to their modest cells once more, or did Holy Mary have something else in store for them?

The sisters related to their confessor what had occurred, and received communion in the morning. At the hour of compline (evening prayers) they saw again the most holy Virgin, who came to take them with her. Amid the songs of angels, one after the other sweetly expired.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

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