By John Thavis
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Blessed Damien de Veuster, a missionary priest who served patients with Hansen’s disease in Hawaii, will be canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11 at the Vatican, the Vatican said.
The Pope presided over a February 21 consistory that gave final
approval for the canonisation of 10 people, including Blessed Damien, a
Belgian-born member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus
Born in 1840, Blessed Damien spent the last 16 years of his life caring
for patients with Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, on the island of
Molokai. He died in 1889 and was beatified in 1995.
Last July, Pope Benedict authorised the publication of a decree
recognising a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Damien,
clearing the way for his canonisation.
Blessed Damien sailed for Hawaii in 1864 and served there for eight
years. When a priest was needed for the leprosy settlement on the
island of Molokai in 1873, he volunteered.
At Molokai, he served as pastor, doctor, adviser and guardian to the approximately 800 residents suffering from leprosy.
He later won permission to minister permanently at the settlement and eventually founded two orphanages there.
Blessed Damien died there five years after contracting leprosy. He continued to work until a month before his death.
Blessed Jeanne Jugan, born in 1792 in France’s Brittany region, is the patroness of the elderly.
In 1839, she opened her home to a sick and blind elderly woman. As time
passed, more and more elderly women arrived at her home for help.
Eventually, other women came to help Blessed Jeanne, and today the
Little Sisters of the Poor care for more than 13,000 needy elderly men
and women around the world.
Blessed Jeanne, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II, died in 1879.
On October 11, Pope Benedict XVI also will canonise:
Blessed Zygmunt Felinski, a former archbishop of Warsaw, Poland, and
founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary. Born in 1822
near Volinia, which today is in Ukraine, he was deported to Russia and,
after being freed, worked among the poor farmers of Ukraine and Poland.
He died in 1895.
Blessed Francisco Coll Guitart, a Spanish Dominican priest who founded
the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the
Blessed Virgin Mary in the 19th century.
Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron, a 20th-century Spanish Trappist brother known for his humility.
On April 26 in Rome, the Pope will canonise: Blessed Arcangelo Tadini,
an Italian diocesan priest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
and founder of the Worker Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth, who
went into the factories to work alongside other women.
Blessed Bernardo Tolomei, an Italian priest who founded the Olivetan Benedictine congregation early in the 14th century.
Blessed Nuno di Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, a lay member of the
Portuguese Order of Friars of the Blessed Sacrament. Before his death
in 1431 he was known for a life of prayer and penance and his devotion
Blessed Gertrude Comensoli, the 19th-century Italian founder of the
Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She devoted her life to
the Eucharist and educating girls.
Blessed Caterina Volpicelli, the 19th-century Italian founder of the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart.