Priest who min­is­tered to lep­ers one step closer to saint­hood

Priest worked on is­land of Molokai in 19th cen­tury

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

HONOLULU — A Ro­man Catholic priest who min­is­tered to lep­ers ban­ished to the is­land of Molokai in the 19th cen­tury has cleared an­other hur­dle on the path to saint­hood.

A Vat­i­can med­i­cal com­mis­sion has de­ter­mined that a Honolulu wo­man’s cure of lung can­cer a decade ago can be at­trib­uted to the in­ter­ces­sion of Bel­gian priest Damien DeVeuster.

The five-doc­tor com­mis­sion re­ported the wo­man’s heal­ing was dra­matic and de­fied med­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion, said Pa­trick Downes, a spokesman for the Catholic Dio­cese of Honolulu.

The Honolulu wo­man said she was cured af­ter she made a pil­grim­age to Kalau­papa, where Damien took care of ban­ished and quaran- tined lep­rosy pa­tients and prayed to the priest. The case was writ­ten in the Hawaii Med­i­cal Jour­nal in 2000 in an ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Com­plete spon­ta­neous re­gres­sion of can­cer.”

Church au­thor­i­ties al­ready cred­ited Damien for an­other mir­a­cle, lead­ing to his be­at­i­fi­ca­tion, the step be­fore saint­hood. In that case, of­fi­cials de­ter­mined a French nun dy­ing of a gas­troin­testi­nal ill­ness mirac­u­lously re­cov­ered af­ter pray­ing to Damien.

An in­di­vid­ual has to be found re­spon­si­ble for two mir­a­cles to be­come a saint. Downes said a com­mis­sion of the­olo­gians must now re­view the case.

More than 8,000 peo­ple were ban­ished to the re­mote Kalau­papa penin­sula on Molokai af­ter lep­rosy, or Hansen’s dis­ease, be­came epi­demic in Hawaii in the 1850s. Damien came to Hawaii from Bel­gium in 1864 and went to Kalau­papa nine years later, min­is­ter­ing to pa­tients un­til he con­tracted Hansen’s dis­ease him­self and died in 1889 at the age of 49.

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