Vatican to Canonize Priest Who Aided Lepers

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 21, 2009 2:16 PM CST
Vatican to Canonize Priest Who Aided Lepers
Pope Benedict XVI, at center, meets cardinals in the Clementine hall at the Vatican today to confirm the sainthood of Rev. Damien de Veuster.   (AP Photo)

A 19th-century Belgian priest who ministered to leprosy patients in Hawaii will be declared a saint October 11, the AP reports. In July, Pope Benedict XVI approved a miracle attributed to Rev. Damien de Veuster's intercession, declaring that a Honolulu woman's recovery in 1999 from terminal lung cancer was the miracle needed for him to be made a saint. De Veuster was beatified—a step toward sainthood—in 1995 by Pope John Paul II.

Born Joseph de Veuster in 1840, he took the name Damien and went to Hawaii in 1864 to join other missionaries. Nine years later he began ministering to leprosy patients on the remote Kalaupapa peninsula of Molokai island, where some 8,000 people had been banished amid an epidemic in Hawaii in the 1850s. The priest eventually contracted the disease, and died in 1889 at age 49. (More sainthood stories.)

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