by Norman Fulkerson
A portrait of young Father Damien in 1868. Born Joseph de Veuster in Tremelo, Belgium, he took the religious name of Damien when he joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
There are few places on Earth more beautiful than Hawaii. While this idyllic paradise may be the destination spot for tourists and honeymooners, Joseph de Veuster was eager to go there for a completely different reason.
It was Joseph’s missionary zeal that attracted him to Hawaii where he volunteered to care for those stricken with leprosy. He eventually contracted the disease and died a painful death. The world would come to know him simply as Father Damien the Leper priest. On October 11, 2009, he was canonized a saint by the Catholic Church and will be remembered throughout history as a heroic example of Christian compassion.
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