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St. Damien of Molokai

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Ave Maria Hour Radio Show

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Rebroadcast of the long-running radio program, "The Ave Maria Hour," a presentation of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. www.AtonementFriars.org

St. Damien of Molokai, also called Father Damien, was born Jozef De Veuster on January 3, 1840 in Tremelo, Belgium. He was educated at the college of Braine-le-Comte, and in 1858 he joined the Society of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary at Leuven, Belgium. In 1863, Fr. Damien went as a missionary to the Hawaiian Islands. Moved by the miserable condition of the lepers whom the Hawaiian government had deported to the island of Molokai, he volunteered to take charge of the settlement.

Fr. Damien served as both pastor and physician to the colony and undertook many projects to better the conditions there. He improved water and food supplies and housing and founded two orphanages.

After sixteen years in the colony, Fr. Damien succumbed to leprosy on April 15, 1889 at the age of 49. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.