Missionary Priest (1840-1889)
+ Damien was born in Tremelo, Belgium. Following the example of an elder brother, Damien entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts (commonly known as the “Picpus Fathers”).
+ After making final vows, Damien volunteered to serve in his community’s missions in Hawaii, arriving in Honolulu on March 19, 1864. Damien was ordained a priest two days later. He spent eight years serving in several villages on the Island of Hawaii.
+ In 1873, Father Damien volunteered to work among the patients of Hansen’s Disease (commonly known as lepers) exiled to the Island of Moloka’i. He spent the rest of his life serving there, seeing each patient as another Christ, offering respect, kindness, and courtesy.
+ Three years later, Damien began to show signs of the disease, but he nevertheless continued his ministry. At this time, he was joined by a group of Franciscan Sisters from Syracuse, New York, led by Saint Marianne Cope.
+ Damien de Veuster—today often called “Damien of Molkoa’i”—died on April 15, 1889, and was canonized in 2009.
For prayer and reflection
“I would gladly give my life for them. I do not spare myself when it is necessary to go on a sick call that takes me twenty to twenty-five miles away.”—Saint Damien de Veuster
On May 10, the Church also celebrates the memory of Saint John of Avila. A Spanish priest and spiritual writer, he is honored as the patron saint of diocesan clergy and he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 2012. Pope Francis extended his memorial to the Universal Church in 2021.
Father of mercy,
who gave us in Saint Damien a shining witness of love
for the poorest and most abandoned,
grant that, by his intercession,
as faithful witnesses of the heart of your Son Jesus,
we too may be servants of the most needy and rejected.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.