Greater love has no man than this. That a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Born a farmer’s son at Tremeloo, Belgium, January 3, 1840, Damien joined the Missionary Congregation of the Sacred Hearts and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu in 1864. In 1873, he volunteered to serve alone at the leprosy settlement on the island of Molokai. For sixteen years he lived and worked among leprosy victims of all faiths and races. He ministered to their doomed bodies and, by his presence, gave them the reassurance they so desperately needed that they had not been forsaken either by God or by men. On April 15, 1889, Damien died among his people, of leprosy. The sculptress Marisol Escobar, working from photographs of the dying priest, saw in Damien the mystery of physical transformation – as if he had become what he wanted to become.
Fear Banished the Suffering
In memory of the more than 7,200 victims of Hansen’s Disease and their helpers (kokua) who died in remote Kalawao and Kalaupapa, land of the exiled. Their courage and compassion spared others from their own tragic fate.
Hawaii State Capitol Building
415 S Beretania St
Honolulu, HI 96813