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Blessed Damien of Molokai
by ALOHA DEAN

 

Birthplace of Father Damien
Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace
St. Francis Church
St. Philomena Church
Father Damian's grave
Mother Marianne Cope
Visitor center
St. Josephs Church
Statue at Hawaii State Capitol
Kalaupapa
Kalaupapa Harbor
Kalawao lookout

This expedition would not be possible without Mule Skinners and my Mule Chevy provided by Molokai Mule Ride. Accommodation provided by Molokai Paradise

Mahalo

Molokai Mule Ride
Kaunakakai
Molokai Ranch
Halawa Valley
Molokai Beaches
On February 21, 2009, the Vatican announced that Father Damien would be canonized on October 11, 2009 completing the process of canonization

No person is as central to the history of Kalawao and Kalaupapa as Joseph De Veuster, or, as he is best known to the world, Father Damien. He arrived during the early days of Kalawao's history, when people with Hansen's disease were being rounded up throughout the Hawaiian Islands and shipped to the isolated settlement on Moloka`i.
Damien was the most famous but not the first caregiver or religious worker to arrive at Kalawao. He followed Congregational ministers, Catholic priests, Mormon elders, and family and friends of patients who went voluntarily to Kalawao to help. Slowly, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope. He spoke the Hawaiian language. Assisted by patients, he built houses, constructed a water system, and planted trees. He also organized schools, bands, and choirs. He provided medical care for the living and buried the dead. He expanded St. Philomena Catholic Church. Not a "retiring" personality, Damien did not hesitate to badger the Hawaiian government and his church for more resources. These efforts attracted worldwide attention, resulting in a heightened awareness of the disease and the plight of its victims. During Father Damien's years at Kalawao, others came to help. A number of priests spent varying lengths of time.
In 1886 Joseph Dutton arrived, followed in 1888 by Mother Marianne Cope and two of her sisters from the Order of St. Francis. They, along with four Brothers of the Sacred Heart who arrived in 1895, carried Damien's work into the next century.
Damien was 49 years old when he died April 15, 1889, at Kalawao with Mother Marianne at his bedside. Shortly before his death, he wrote his brother Pamphile, "I am gently going to my grave. It is the will of God, and I thank Him very much for letting me die of the same disease and in the same way as my lepers. I am very satisfied and very happy."
   

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Father Damien, also Blessed Damien of Molokai and born Joseph de Veuster (January 3, 1840 – April 15, 1889), was a Roman Catholic priest from Flanders and member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a missionary religious order.
 
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QTVRDevalVRFlash  Birthplace of Father Damien (Tremelo, Belgium)
Photo Courtesy of Koen Verschaeren © 360sights.com
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He arrived in Honolulu on March 19, 1864. There he was ordained in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace on May 31 and took the name of Damien. His first calling was on the big island of Hawai`i, where he spent eight years. He often traveled great distances to minister to the people of his districts of Puna, followed by Kohala and Hamakua. In 1873 he learned of the need for priests to serve the 700 Hansen's disease victims confined on the island of Moloka`i. He and three other priests volunteered to go in succession. Damien was the first, and soon he was on a boat carrying cattle and 50 patients bound for Kalawao.
 

QTVRDevalVRFlash The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu

QTVRDevalVRFlash Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu
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St. Francis was built in 1908 and is of masonry construction with Gothic windows and a rear tower. St. Francis Catholic Church is prominently located directly across from the historic landing where barges continue to dock as they did throughout the century.
 

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QTVRDevalVRFlash St. Francis Church Kalaupapa

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St. Francis Church Kalaupapa from the inside
 
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St. Francis Church Museum  
 

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A small wooden building was being used for Catholic church services when Father Damien arrived at Kalawao in 1873. He and patient helpers enlarged the church twice. Brother Joseph Dutton completed the work after Damien's death in 1889 
 

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QTVRDevalVRFlash St. Philomena Catholic Church in Kalawao,

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Father Damien had lived in Kalawao 12 years when it was confirmed that he had contracted Hansen’s disease. Damien was 49 years old when he died April 15, 1889, at Kalawao with Mother Marianne at his bedside. He was buried in the cemetery next to his church, St. Philomena. The people of Kalawao had lost their strongest voice.
 

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QTVRDevalVRFlash Father Damien's grave site at Kalawao

He was originally buried on Molokai, but in 1936, the Belgian government asked for the return of his body, which is now buried in Leuven, a city close to the village where he was born.   Molokai Virtual TourSaint-Anthony's Chapel in Leuven, Pater Damiaanplein, contains the tomb of Father Damien's, a city close to the village where he was born
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In 1995 a relic composed of the remains of his right hand was returned to his original grave at Kalawao.
At the beatification ceremony in Brussels, a relic was presented to a delegation from Hawaii, some of whom were leprosy patients from Kaluapapa. It was the bones of the priest's right hand, the hand that he blessed with. Catholic veneration of relics is consistent with Hawaiian belief in the spiritual power of bones. Following Hawaiian custom, the bones were wrapped in traditional kapa (bark cloth), then placed in a box of native koa wood.
 
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QTVRDevalVRFlash "Hands" near Damian museum (Tremelo, Belgium)
Photo Courtesy of Koen Verschaeren © 360sights.com 
Molokai Virtual Tour
QTVRDevalVRFlash "Hands" near Damian museum (Tremelo, Belgium)
Photo Courtesy of Koen Verschaeren © 360sights.com 
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Damien Monument, Erected on Sept.11, 1893 by the people of England
 
QTVRDevalVRFlash Damien Monument
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In the late 1800’s Mother Marianne Cope and other Sisters of St. Francis journeyed from the United States to the far-away Kingdom of Hawai`i to care for these outcasts of society when others would or could not. Their story is not as well known as Father Damien’s, but it is just as full of love and sacrifice.
 
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QTVRDevalVRFlash Mother Marianne Cope's Grave and Monument
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A visitor center is located in the Kalaupapa Settlement at the American of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) Buddhist Hall. The visitor center offers interpretive materials and artifact exhibits. The cooperating association for the park, Arizona Memorial Museum Association (AMME) provides a small sales outlet at AJA Hall.
 

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QTVRDevalVRFlash AJA Hall/Museum & Bookstore

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Built by the Father Damien, in 1876, St. Joseph's Church is the second oldest church on Molokai. A statue of Father Damien stands beside the old church and is often draped in leis in honor of "The Martyr of Molokai". This church is listing on National Register of Historic Places.
 

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QTVRDevalVRFlash St. Josephs Church, Molokai

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On April 15, 1969, exactly 80 years after his death, a statue of Father Damien was unveiled in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol together with Kamehameha I. An identical statue can also be found in front of Hawaii's State Capitol in Honolulu
 
aloha towerQTVRDevalVRFlash Hawaii State Capitol
KALAUPAPA PENINNSULA    
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Kalaupapa is on a sea level peninsula that is completely isolated from the rest of Molokai by a sheer mountain face. Kalaupapa can only be reached by a very small airplane, or by hiking or riding a mule down the almost vertical trail. Hiking down is great, going back up is not for wimps.
 

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QTVRDevalVRFlash Kalaupapa Lookout

Kalaupapa is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Today, peninsula is National Historical Park only accessible by air, mule or foot. Fly in and hike out, hike in and fly out...
 
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The park is open 365 days each year. There are no opening and closing hours due to the restricted visitation and active Kalaupapa community of people. Commercial tours operate Monday through Saturday, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day.


 

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QTVRDevalVRFlash Damien Tour Bus,
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The Kalaupapa Harbor was built in 1967 by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. 41 DOH employees, 30 Kalaupapa residents, 42 NPS employees and 3 STD employees who live in Kalaupapa rely on the delivery of supplies, including gasoline, heavy equipment, motor vehicles, bulk supplies and general merchandise that are shipped twice a year to the settlement.
 

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There are few ancient landscapes left in the Hawaiian archipelago that are as untouched as the Kalaupapa Peninsula, and yet, are still accessible for large scale investigations focused on ancient and proto-historic Hawaiian cultural processes.  
 

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QTVRDevalVRFlash Remains of early Hawaiian inhabitation

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Kalaupapa to Kalawao Hwy., There were over 8000 people sent to the Kalaupapa peninsula from 1866 to 1969, being ostracized from the Hawaiian society.
 

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Kalawao lookout, at the base of the highest sea cliffs in the world, dropping about 1010 meters into the Pacific Ocean (recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records)..
 

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