Saint Damien de Veuster - The Leper Priest
Father Damien de Veuster, a Belgian missionary who cared for lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai was canonized on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. He had died in Molokai of leprosy at 8:00 am on April 15, 1889, at the young age of 49.
In January 1936, Belgium officially asked for the return of Fr. Damien's body. It was taken back to Belgium aboard the Mercator, a Belgian merchant marine training ship. On the journey back, the Mercator called at George Town harbour in Grand Cayman.
Left: Damien (Jozef) de Veuster on arrival at Molokai, Hawaii
Centre: The Mercator at sea - a painting by Yasmina
Right: Saint Damien of Molokai
The remains of Saint Damien's right hand were returned to Hawaii in June 1995, and re-interred in his original grave on Molokai after his beatification. His body rests in Leuven, an historic university city close to the village where Damien was born. The Mercator is now a floating museum in Oostend, Belgium.
Saint Damien links