"Lepers' Apostle" to Be Declared a Saint

Father Damián Ministered in Hawaii

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The miraculous healing of a Hawaiian woman with cancer is leading to the canonization of a priest known for his ministry on the island with lepers relegated to a sequestered community.

Belgian Father Damián de Veuster (1840-1889) is known as the apostle to the lepers, for his ministry on the island of Molokai. The Holy See reported today that on Saturday, there will be a consistory to decide the date for his canonization, and that of nine other blesseds.

Pope John Paul II beatified Father Damián in 1995.

The priest requested to work with the lepers, providing them with religious and practical support since they were denied necessary medical treatment and provided only with food and basic supplies. Father Damián managed to establish for them a parish, schools and a society. He himself died of leprosy.

The miracle that paved the way for his canonization was the healing of Audrey Toguchi of Honolulu. Her cancer was considered incurable, but she spent nearly a year asking God to heal her through the intercession of Father Damián.

She said that during that period, her prayer was directed to God «exclusively through Blessed Damián. I am convinced that this miraculous disappearance of the cancer is due to the intercession of Blessed Damián.»

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