Sunday, October 11, 2009
Five Catholics Elevated to Sainthood, Including Father Damien
VOA News reports that "19th century Polish archbishop Zygmunt Felinski, two Spanish monks, a Dominican, Francisco Coll y Guitart, and a Trappist, Rafael Arnaiz Baron, a woman, Jeanne Jugan of France, who founded the order of the Little Sisters of the Poor in the 18th century, and Father Damien" were all declared saints in a canonization Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI before an audience of tens of thousands.
The Belgian priest Jozef De Veuster, better known as Father Damien, was elevated to sainthood for his work with leprosy patients on the Hawaiian island of Molokai in the 19th century. His work was described during the ceremony.
Father Damien, said a Vatican official, was unanimously recognized for his work despite abuse by the civilian authorities and withering public opinion. He died of leprosy in 1889.
A large delegation of some 500 people from Hawaii, including the bishop of Honolulu Richard Silva, traveled to Rome to take part in the ceremony. Among those present in the basilica was a group of elderly Hawaiian leprosy patients, sitting on wheelchairs.