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Father Damien

Joseph de Veuster (Father Damien) (January 3, 1840 - April 15, 1888) was a Roman Catholic priest who dedicated his life to ministering to the sufferers of Hansen's disease (leprosy) who lived on the island of Molokai, Hawaii.

He was born in Tremeloo, Belgium, the son of a farmer. He entered the novitiate of the Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary[?] at Louvain, and was admitted to the religious profession on October 7, 1860. Three years later he was sent to Hawaii, where he was ordained on May 24, 1864. On May 10, 1873, at his request, he was permitted to travel to Molokai to help the lepers who had virtually nothing to keep them warm or fed. After twelve years of ministering to the patients at the leper colony (see Kalawao County, Hawaii), he contracted the disease, from which he died at the colony.

He is the patron of lepers and outcasts, and was recently made the patron of AIDS patients. The world's only Catholic memorial chapel to victims of AIDS, a shrine to Father Damien, is to be found in the Église Saint-Pierre in Montreal, Quebec.



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