Today in History - April 15th. 1889 - Death of Father Damien

Jozef De Veuster was born on January 3rd. 1840 in Tremelo (Belgium).

Father Damien
Source picture: Wikipedia

He entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary
in Leuven. There he took the name: brother Damianus (latin for Damien).

In 1873 Father Damien arrived on Molokai. At the moment of his arrival there were
816 lepers. He reorganized a feral community. His arrival was a turning point for the
colony. From then on there were decent houses, villages and even a school.

King David Kalakaua of Hawaii bestowed him the honor
'Royal Commander of the Royal Order of the Kalakaua'.

In 1886, he was effected with leprosy.

He died on April 15th. 1889.

On February 12th. 1935, King Leopold III of Belgium wrote a letter to
president Franklin D. Roosevelt to ask the return of the remains of
Father Damien to Belgium.

In 1936, the Sailing Ship 'Mercator' returned with the remains to Antwerp.
Later Father Damien was reburied in Leuven. Relics of his hand stayed in

On October 11th. 2009 he was canonized @ the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium attended this celebration.


Father Damien is the only not-American with a statue in the United States Capitol.
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