Sunday, 15 April 2012

St Damien the Leper

St Damien as depicted on the reredos in the AIDS memorial chapel in the Episcopal Church of St Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood, California.

A saint who has always impressed me is St Damien of Molokai in Hawaii.  I saw a film about him when I was quite young and it stuck in my mind.  he was probably one of the 1st God People I ever heard of (the other being Mary Slessor of Calabar courtesy of a battered paperback in my grandparents house entitled "White Queen of the Cannibals" - not a very PC title but it again grabbed my childish attention!).

File:Father Damien on his funeral bier with Mother Marianne Cope by his side.jpg 

Damien gave his life heroically ministering to the ultimate outcasts of his day - the lepers.  he died of the disease himself at the age of 49 on April 15 1889.  He was canonised 3 years ago.  It seems fitting to recall him and his example today. To quote president Obama:  "In our own time, as millions around the world suffer from disease, especially the pandemic of HIV/AIDS, we should draw on the example of Father Damien’s resolve in answering the urgent call to heal and care for the sick.".  and of course the current Pope: Father Damian, "teaches us to choose the good fight - not those that lead to division, but those that gather us together in unity." 

Blessed Damien, ora pro nobis.


  1. like the president is catholic, since he's not catholic is he going you know where? to hades?

    1. Well, I don't think he's going to Hades/Hell/Sheol - unless you regarded Capitol Hill as a respectable suburb thereof!

  2. Robert Louise Stevenson was profoundly moved by the example of Fr Damien & wasn't impressed by "the frozen chosen's" clergy.

    1. Yes, I've read his book and his prophetic comment to the critical Presbyterian minister in question; "If that world at all remember you, on the day when Damien of Molokai shall be named a Saint, it will be in virtue of one work: your letter to the Reverend H. B. Gage."

      He also noted of that particular cleric:

      "You are one of those who have an eye for faults and failures; that you take a pleasure to find and publish them; and that, having found them, you make haste to forget the overvailing virtues and the real success which had alone introduced them to your knowledge. It is a dangerous frame of mind"