Father Damien, the Apostle of the Lepers

06 Jul

Father Damien in 1873 arriving in Oahu.
Picture credit: Wikipedia


If you ever have the chance to see the film about this man, it is an astonishing work:

Molokai: The Story of Father Damien.

So many biographies tend to be dull, or appear to be grasping for drama.

This man’s life did not need any more drama, it was filled to the brim with it as soon as he arrived in Molokai

I am not sure how many of us ever could, or would, have had the courage to do what he did.

I was a treatment Nurse in a Rehab Center for four years and was surrounded daily by those that society and the state of California considered to be wretched souls.

Many there were merely being housed in a state facility,  that kept them medicated just enough to be safe for the staff to work with, or somewhat controllable.

Some times however, they were not.

I ended up in the local ER three times,  as proof of this.

The third time was the end for my husband,  who said, ” you’re all done there, and you’re not going back.”

I wanted to stay,  knowing how much needed to be done there, but sadly, finally agreed to leave, knowing that he was right.

But back to the facts about Father Damien, who was said to be the inspiration for Gandhi in his struggle to make India and her people independent from England.

Jozef De Veuster was born on January 3, 1840 in Tremelo, Belgium.

He arrived in Hawaii on March 19, 1864 and began a journey of such love and courage,  that the world and its opinion of the disease he eventually succumbed to,  would be changed forever.

Disease was inflicted on the innocent people of the Hawaiian Islands,  by those who came to do business with them, mostly, sailors and traders.

By 1865,  health conditions on the Islands had reached such a crisis level,  that a law was passed to isolate those with what was considered to be the worst and fatal, Leprosy,  to Molokai in a Leper Colony and kept under strict quarantine.

When Father Damien began his work on Molokai, May 10, 1873,  it was assumed to be a death sentence.

Hawaii’s Bishop called for volunteers for this mission and Father Damien was the first to step up.

It was planned that three others would follow him.

The Island of Molokai was for those sad souls who ended up there,  a place of misery and death.

But, Father Damien came and brought with him the changes that would give those afflicted, hope.

Hawaiian people are normally quite happy, loving and affectionate.

Those who ended up on Molokai, were nothing at all like their relatives on the other Islands.

The dedication, devotion, love and passion of Father Damien made those on Molokai  believe that they could do something for themselves, and because of him, many of them for the first time,  found peace.

But their peace came at a high price for Damien, who after 16 years of selfless service to these terribly sick people, finally contracted the disease that would end his life.

Father Damien continued while he was sick,  fighting with all of those on Oahu,  to do what was humane, decent and right for the afflicted people of Molokai.

Before his death on April 15, 1889 at the young age of 49, he had fought against the tyrannical Catholic dioceses and those who controlled Hawaii, who did little to help him or them and forced them to change.

His body at the request of King Leopold III, was returned to Belgium to his place of birth, in January of 1936.

In 1995, his right  hand was given back to the Hawaiian people to be buried in his grave on Molokai.

Long after his death,  Father Damien was finally made a Saint in 2009.

Never has there been one who was more deserving of this,  than Father Damien, the Apostle of the Lepers.


Places to learn more:

Father Damien (Joseph de Veuster)

NPS Hawaii – Father Damien

Father Damien  –  Wikipedia

Father Damien

Father Damien



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23 responses to “Father Damien, the Apostle of the Lepers

  1. Jueseppi B.

    July 6, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

    • Gator Woman

      July 6, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      Thank you so very much for sharing his life with your readers~

      • Jueseppi B.

        July 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        My pleasure and I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend. Blessings.

      • Gator Woman

        July 6, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        All the very same happy thoughts back to you~
        Have you seen this movie?

  2. Tanveer Rauf

    July 6, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    What a great humane human he was. Sacrificed his own life for the sake of others. He is sure to be ennjoying eternal life in the best grade of heavens above.

    • Gator Woman

      July 6, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      I was hoping that this would appeal to you, considering who you are and what you have done with your life!

      • Tanveer Rauf

        July 7, 2014 at 12:40 AM

        im honored and humbled dear friend. God bless you, amen

  3. Dr. Rex

    July 6, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    These are the kind of stories that need to be told …. Inspiring, motivational, good. Honor this human being!

    • Gator Woman

      July 6, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Dear Dr. Rex:
      Thank you so much for sharing his life. He was amazing!

      • Dr. Rex

        July 6, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        Agree! Hi there ….

  4. #AceNewsGroup

    July 6, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Reblogged this on Ace Friends News and commented:

    • Gator Woman

      July 6, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      Thank you for sharing his story with your followers~

      • #AceNewsGroup

        July 6, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        I never read it but sounds a real great story and l have a news blog for all posts of friends and followers and it suited this post. Also following you for some more to share and thanks for following 🙂

      • Gator Woman

        July 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        Thank you!
        The movie is excellent, if you can find it~

      • #AceNewsGroup

        July 6, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        Thanks will look out for it 🙂

  5. Jan Hobbs

    July 6, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Reblogged this on Blissfully Single and commented:
    What an inspiring man. This is the true meaning of selflessness. In my opinion, this is what defines sainthood.

    • Gator Woman

      July 6, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      Hello Jan:
      We agree completely.
      Thank you so much for sharing his life with your followers.

  6. Karen DeBraal

    July 7, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    Thank you for this post. I only knew a little and now want to see the movie and read the book. People like Father Damien inspire me no end.

    • Gator Woman

      July 7, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      Am so happy that you found it of value Karen.
      I truly believe that he was sent to us to do just that.
      He inspired Gandhi, why not the rest of the world?

  7. Karen DeBraal

    July 7, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Just read the Wikipedia information. I didn’t know Obama referenced him, but that isn’t surprising.

    • Gator Woman

      July 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      Thank you for sharing his incredible life!


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