‘St. Damien’ title is long overdue
Doctors commissioned by the Vatican have determined that a woman's cancer cure following her prayer to Father Damien cannot be explained medically.
LONG overdue, Father Damien DeVeuster's elevation to sainthood is a major step closer with a Vatican-commissioned medical panel's finding that a woman's cancer cure was medically inexplicable following her prayers at Damien's grave nine years ago. A commission of bishops and cardinals could recommend sainthood to the pope within the next year.
Damien is known around the world for his service to Hansen's Disease patients at Molokai's Kalaupapa settlement from 1873 to 1884, when he died from leprosy. He was "beatified" in 1995, a century after a French nun's recovery from an intestinal illness after engaging in a Catholic ritual to Damien.
Two miracles are required for sainthood, and a retired Honolulu educator provided what she regards as Damien's second one. The woman, whose grandparent had been banished to Molokai before the quarantine ended in 1969, made a pilgrimage to Kalaupapa in 1998 and prayed at Damien's grave, asking him to intercede with God on her behalf.
Dr. Walter Chang documented the subsequent "spontaneous regression of cancer" in both her lungs in the Hawaii Medical Journal in 2000, concluding that it was a medical mystery. "She had absolutely no treatment, not even a diet," Chang has said.
The woman wrote to Pope John Paul II about her recovery and told her story four years ago to a tribunal convened by then-Honolulu Bishop Francis DiLorenzo.
A Vatican commission of five doctors has reported that the woman's cure was dramatic and defied medical explanation. The next step involves a commission determining whether her recovery was a miracle that should be attributed to Damien, a process that could take about a year. Pope Benedict XVII will make the ultimate decision.
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