Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Saint-Elect" de Veuster

Another Saint with an American connection is on his way.

At an Ordinary Public Consistory this morning, Pope Benedict announced his decision to canonize ten "Blesseds" of the Church, among them Blessed Jozef (who, in religious life, took the name Damien) de Veuster, a Belgian who worked amongst the lepers on the island of Molokai in Hawaii, before succumbing to the disease himself on April 15, 1889 at the ripe old age of 49.

His canonization will take place on Sunday, October 11 of this year.  His feast day is celebrated annually on May 10, except in Hawaii, where it is celebrated on April 15 (to coincide with "Father Damien Day", which is already a state holiday).

In 1936, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (of which Fr. Damien was a member) brought Fr. Damien's body back to Belgium, where he remains today.  However, following his Beatification in 1995, his right hand was brought back to Hawaii, where it was reinterred in his original grave.

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