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Saint of the Day for 15 April: St. Damien de Veuster

St. Damien de Veuster: The Life and Legatus of the Priest among the Lepers of Molokai


St. Damien de Veuster



Baptismal name

Jozef de Veuster


January 3, 1840, Belgium


April 15, 1889, Molokai, Hawaiian Islands


15 April


2004 edition


June 3, 1995, Brussels, Pope John Paul II


October 11, 2009, Rome, Pope Benedict XVI



Roman Martyrology

In the locality of Kalawao on the island of Molokai in Oceania, St. Damien de Veuster, a priest of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who waited with such dedication to the care of lepers that he too died stricken with leprosy.



The Saint and Mission

Saint Damian de Veuster, better known as Father Damiano, is an extraordinary emblem of how the Christian mission can be embodied through a boundless love for the marginalized and forgotten of society. His life, dedicated to the service of lepers on the island of Molokai in Hawaii, reflects a deep understanding of the essence of the Gospel, demonstrating that the heart of the Christian mission lies in embodying the merciful love of Christ for all, especially for those who are on the margins. Father Damiano’s mission was rooted in an unconditional love that pushed him to see Christ in every person who suffers. Through his service among the lepers, he showed that true mercy goes beyond the simple act of healing physical wounds; it seeks to restore dignity, hope and a sense of community to those who have been excluded and stigmatized. His life teaches us that every gesture of care and attention can be a powerful sign of God’s love, capable of transforming lives in profound and lasting ways. Father Damiano also reminds us that the Christian mission requires courage and personal sacrifice. His decision to live among lepers, fully sharing their life and ultimately contracting leprosy himself, testifies to a fidelity to the Gospel that goes to the extreme of self-giving. This supreme sacrifice is a living expression of Jesus’ command to love others as He has loved us, highlighting that sometimes following Christ means agreeing to carry the cross with Him. Furthermore, the story of Father Damiano highlights the importance of welcome and solidarity in our mission. By creating a community of care and support on Molokai, he demonstrated that the kingdom of God is built through relationships that recognize and celebrate the intrinsic worth of each person. His work among the lepers thus becomes a model of how the Church is called to be a place of welcome and healing for all, a tangible sign of God’s love in the world. The life of San Damiano de Veuster invites us to reflect on how we can respond to the call to mission in our context, challenging us to see the needs of our world through the eyes of faith and to respond with a love that dares to go beyond the confines of the comfortable and of the conventional. His legacy encourages us to become witnesses of the merciful love of Christ, working to build communities in which every person, regardless of their condition or history, can experience the dignity, hope and love that come from God. San Damiano de Veuster shows us that the Christian mission is a path of radical love, an invitation to live our faith through concrete actions of service and sacrifice for others. His life is a reminder that, through our willingness to serve Christ in the last and the lost, we can bring light into darkness and hope into despair, bearing witness to the good news of the Gospel with our whole existence.

The Saint and Mercy

Saint Damian de Veuster, known as Father Damian, embodied divine mercy in a context of extreme suffering and abandonment, becoming a living symbol of Christ’s compassionate love for the most marginalized. His dedication to the lepers of Molokai was not simply a work of medical or social assistance; it was a profound expression of mercy that went to the very heart of the Gospel, showing that every act of care and love has the power to reveal the face of God to those in need. The life of Father Damiano reminds us that mercy is a call to act, to intervene in situations of pain and injustice with a love that goes beyond words. His choice to live among lepers, sharing their suffering and ultimately dying among them, illustrates mercy as a path of total self-giving, where closeness and solidarity become instruments of healing and hope. This Belgian priest also teaches us that mercy has the power to transform the community. Through his work on Molokai, Father Damiano not only improved the physical conditions of his beloved lepers, but also re-established their sense of dignity and belonging. His presence and commitment demonstrate how mercy can rebuild community spirit, renewing the sense of brotherhood and mutual love between people who had been isolated and forgotten by the world. Furthermore, Father Damiano shows us that mercy requires courage, the willingness to face one’s fears and prejudices to see the other not as another, but as a brother or sister in Christ. His ministry among the lepers was an act of courage that challenged the social norms and fears of the time, inspiring others to recognize shared humanity and the need for compassion towards all, regardless of their conditions. Father Damiano’s testimony invites us to reflect on the meaning of mercy in our lives and on the many ways through which we can embody it in our daily lives. He challenges us to look beyond our comforts and respond concretely to Christ’s command to love our neighbors, especially those on the margins of society. His life is a reminder that mercy is not an abstract idea, but a way of life that requires commitment, sacrifice and a heart open to the love of God. Saint Damian de Veuster embodies the essence of Christian mercy, showing us that through loving service and sacrifice we can bring light into darkness and hope into despair. His legacy inspires us to live with deep compassion for others, recognizing that in every act of mercy lies the living and transforming presence of God.


“Politics and the journalistic world can boast of heroes, but few can compare with Father Damien of Molokai. It is worth taking a look at the sources of such heroism” (Gandhi). Father Damien himself reveals in a letter the reasons for his choice: “I love these poor natives very much for their simplicity and…


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