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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Aloha Father Damien

Have you all heard that Father Damien, the saint of the Hawaiian lepers, is going to be canonized? The Pope gave Father Damien the saintly green light just 3 days ago! We have much to discuss!

On a personal note, I was very excited because I thought one of my favorite Church Triumphant members was going to have his feast day on my birthday. But, no. His feast day is going to be on May 10.
Mark your calendars now, so you don't have to rely on me to remind you on the wrong day!

The thing that I find most exciting about Father Damien is that, since he is a new saint, it's easy to find out what his miracles were. Everyone always whats to know what a saint's miracles were and we really don't find that out most of the time. Mother Frances Cabrini's two miracles? Your guess is as good as mine. St. Juan Diego was canonized just a few years ago. His miracles? No clue.

Let's do a quick re-cap on saints so we're all on the same page here. I've gone over it.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints just turned in their paperwork on Father Damien the other day. The Pope read it over. Father Damien is in!

Father Damien was a Belgian priest who wanted to do missionary work and ended up in Hawaii. It wasn't a state yet. The Hawaiians were getting all kinds of diseases from all the traffic through their island paradise. The government of Hawaii, which at that point involved a King and a Princess, decided to stick all the lepers on an island of their own. They were given housing and food, but no medical supplies.

The lepers colony island, cut off from the rest of the world, became like that movie "Escape from New York", where all the criminals are just dumped in a barricaded New York City which has become a giant prison and everyone just runs all around killing each other and snatching purses. It probably wasn't as bad as the prison New York City, because all the inmates were ill and probably didn't have the energy to do anything too monstrous.

But the place was a lawless mess and the lepers weren't particularly kind to each other. Enter Father Damien in 1865. Everyone in Hawaii is still talking about him.

Now, about his miracles. A quick side trip:

Help, Sister, help! That St. Zoe of Rome link* has a SAINT Kateri medal for sale! See how right you are about the need for a Devil's Advocate?

Kateri Tekakwitha is indeed NOT (yet) a saint. I have her in my own shop and there is no "saint" on there. That is because she is awaiting her second miracle. I really like the look of that St. Zoe medal, which is why I posted the link. I didn't even notice SAINT Kateri. I will write them a letter.

Back to Father Damien. The first miracle was a nun who was cured of something or another, some nasty intestinal thing way back in 1895. It's the second miracle to which I want to draw your attention. The second miracle was an old Hawaiian woman. I believe she is 83. At any rate, she had cancer of the fat. Who knew there even was such a thing, but there is. The tumor was removed but it was too late. The cancer had moved to her...everywhere. She had cancer of the everything. Her life could have been prolonged with chemo and radiation, but nothing would save her.

Big deal, she's 83, right?

She told them to keep their stupid radiation and chemo and she marched straight over to the tomb of Father Damien. (I don't believe he's in there anymore, by the way. I believe he was taken back to Belgium some time ago. It's the thought that counts.)

So long inoperable cancer! The old Hawaiian lady, who is Father Damien's ticket to sainthood, is already making plans to attend his canonization in Rome. Old, schmold.

This is why I made the little Kateri side trip, by the way. Blessed Kateri is in need of her second miracle. It could be YOU! Well...I hope it's not you. I hope you don't need such a miracle. But if you do, or a loved one does, this is your big chance!

Not only Blessed Kateri, but also Mother Teresa is still idling and so is a favorite of mine, Blessed Brother Andre.*  Also in need of a second miracle, the parents of St. Therese the Little Flower.

Here's a little ditty I've composed to help you remember:

May you not need a miracle.
But in case that you do.
Say a quick prayer
to a "Blessed" or two.

*Brother Andre was canonized in 2010!"


DRE said...

Sister, please don't forget my favorite beati...Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez! He will be (I hope) the first saint from Puerto Rico. My in-laws live in his home town of Caguas. In Caguas, where many people knew him personally, they call him "Our Charlie". He was a very well-loved catechist with a special devotion to the Eucharist and the Triduum. His most famous quote (about the Easter Vigil): "We live for this night." (Of course, he said it in Spanish: "Vivamos para esta noche.")

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that Fr Damian doesn't have any miracles of healed lepers. Maybe we need to let folks know a little better how to report miracles, and that they need to be reported. I'm sure he must have them!

Bekah said...

Supposing one prays to more than one Blessed and results in a miracle\, how will it be attributed? I happen to have a family member who needs a miracle, and am not certain whether to confine my prayers to a particular Saint/Blessed, or call upon any and all available. Father Damien sounds very appropriate for our needs, though he already has his.

Monica said...

And all this time I thought Fr. Damien was a saint! Sheesh. Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote a wonderful letter on behalf of Fr. Damien when he was being raked over the coals by the other people in Hawaii at the time who should have been helping the lepers but didn't want to. It's short and well worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Damien's body is in a tomb in Leuven, Belgium. I used to walk down there after Mass at the Seminary there.

Anonymous said...

There is also a movie about 'Father Damien The Leaper Priest'- I believe that is what the movie is called.
This may be hollywood's version only, but in the movie Father Damien also contracts leapercy and is able to stay on the Hawaii island instead of the Vatican moving him elsewhere???

Kimberly said...

Good Morning! I just stopped by to check out your blog. How wonderful and informative it is. I love the Uncle Sam "I want you to to make a Saint." I am going to put this on my fridge since I tell my kids that I am trying to help them become saints so we can all get to heaven together. Thanks for what you do!

Blessed be God Forever!

Awesome God Blog

arkanabar t'verrick ilarsadin said...

The Wikipedia entry for Father Damien (as of 8 July 2008, 9:46am EDT) says this also. link to the wiki

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

I just read in a book about him that the people in Belgium sent his right hand to Molokai. I don't actually know if it's still there.

Wendy said...

It's OK Sister,his feast day is on MY birthday! I have had a devotion to him ever since I was a kid because, even as a Blessed, he was on my birthday!

Cannibal Penguins Eat Their Young said...

We in Hawaii are very devoted to our Father Damien. In fact, my son attends Father Damien Memorial High School. So wonderful to read a blog about him. And such a great read it was! Thanks for that, Sister...


mel said...

I thought Father Damien was already a Saint too! My first child was going to be Damien...if, you know, she had been a boy. And when I was pregnant everyone would say, "But Damien is the name of SATAN!"...because of the whole Omen movie saga...and I would say, "Um, no, that would be Lucifer. Damien is a Saint's name."

Anonymous said...

Hello. the name of the Father Damien movie is "Molokai" and it rocks. Beautifully produced, human, real, inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating! Superstition in the 21st Century.

Do you really believe that illnesses can be cured by praying to a dead person?

(Damien was a nice guy though)

Anonymous said...

American Leprosy Missions is still helping people with leprosy. There is now a cure for the disease! Check out leprosy.org