All denominations can celebrate Damien
Pope Benedict XVI has approved a recommendation that Father Damien De Veuster be declared a saint.
The Vatican has entered the final phase in the process of elevating Father Damien De Veuster to sainthood. A group of cardinals and bishops have attributed two miracles to Father Damien, and Pope Benedict XVI has agreed to declare him a saint. Damien has been revered in Hawaii for more than a century by people of all denominations and his sainthood has been long in coming.
Scheduling of canonization normally is made in February, so Damien's rise to sainthood probably will be scheduled for later next year. The canonization probably will occur at the Vatican, with ceremonies in Hawaii and Damien's native Belgium.
Damien has long been recognized worldwide for his service to Hansen's disease patients at Kalaupapa on Molokai before his death from leprosy in 1889. His body was exhumed from his Molokai grave and sent to Belgium for reburial in 1936. A relic of his right hand was re-interred in Kalaupapa following his beatification in 1995.
"He deserves it, and it's a long-awaited process for him," Sister Frances of Molokai said in anticipation of the pope's decision, referring to Damien's ministering to leprosy patients. "He gave his life for it, for the disease. People say you lay down your life for your friend. He literally did that, so I say he deserves it."
"Audrey Toguchi has told church officials that her prayer at Damien's Kalaupapa grave in 1998 led to her miraculous recovery from cancer that had spread to both of her lungs. Doctors had no explanation for her return to health, and Toguchi, 79, a retired Aiea High School teacher whose grandfather was a leprosy patient, ascribed it to a miracle.
A French nun's recovery from an intestinal disease in 1895 after she engaged in a Catholic ritual to Damien was declared a miracle, resulting in his beatification a century later. Toguchi's recovery has been recognized as the second miracle necessary for Damien's sainthood.
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