St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai

Hawaii normally brings idyllic scenes of blue skies and white beaches to mind. But Hell invaded Paradise when the incurable disease leprosy was discovered there. An 1865 law segregated lepers by forcibly exiling individuals--even children--to the island of Molokai. It was onto these forlorn shores that Father Damien de Veuster stepped in the spring of 1873.

Saint Damien lived with the lepers for 15 years, knowing full well that his decision to minister to the lepers would eventually cause him to die of the horribly mutilating disease. He died in 1889 at the age of 49.

In 1995, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II and became Blessed Damien de Veuster, although he was often refereed to as Blessed Damien of Molokai or Blessed Damien the Leper.

St. Damien is being canonized during the Year of the Priest, and his service to the lepers of Molokai is a model of the selfless service that all priests are called to. The canonization of Saint Damien of Molokai occurred on October 11, 2009. His feast day is May 10.