Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Feast of St. Damien of Molokai - Photos and Quotes - Kalaupapa and Kalawao

Kalaupapa (view from plane)
"Leprosy is beginning to be very prevalent here.  There are many men covered with it.  It does not cause death at once, but it is rarely cured.  The disease is very dangerous, because it is highly contagious." - Letter by Father Damien to his family back home.  

A month later, officials posted the following notice:
"All Lepers must report to the government health authorities within fourteen days from this date for inspection and final banishment to Molokai" 

St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa
"Lepers were hunted by officials, usually white men, with great zeal... whole families took to the hills and caves.  Soon there were entire communities living in hiding." - John Farrow, Damien the Leper

Statue of Father Damien, St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa
"Discoloured patches appear on the skin, especially on the cheeks; and the parts affected lose their feeling.  After a time this discoloration coves the whole body; then ulcers begin to open, mainly at the extremities.  The flesh is eaten away , and gives out a fetid smell; even the breath of the leper becomes so foul that the air around is poisoned with it." - Father Damien

"He overwhelms us with his...care, and he himself builds our houses.  When any one of us is ill, he gives him tea, biscuits and sugar; and to the poor he gives clothes."  - On Father Damien, by a Leprosy sufferer

"I feel no disgust when I hear the confessions of those near their end, whose wounds are full of maggots...This may give you some idea of my daily work.  Picture to yourself a collection of huts with 800 Lepers.  No doctor; in fact, as there is no cure, there seems no place for a doctor's skill."
Father Damien

"Every morning, then, after my Mass, ...I go to visit the sick, half of whom are Catholics.  On entering each hut, I begin by offering to hear their confession. Those who refuse this spiritual help are not, therefore, refused temporal help, which is given to all without distinction." - Father Damien

"There years now, and not a line from you.  Where are you then, my dear sister?  Are you off to Heaven already?  Not so fast, if you please.  A little more time is needed to win that crown.  Take pity then on your poor brother, who, by dint of being so long forgotten, will soon become a regular savage among savages.  Well, I certainly love my savages, who soon will be more civilized than Europeans.  They are learning to read and write..." - Letter by Father Damien to his sister Pauline, a nun in Holland.

"It is a great happiness to me whenever I have an opportunity of sending news of myself, of reminding you, my dear parents, that on an island in the midst of the great Pacific, you have a son who loves you and a priest who prays for you..." - Letter by Father Damien to his parents.

"...an ordeal from which the nerves of a man's spirit shrink, even as his eye quails under the light of the sun...A pitiful place to visit and a hell to dwell in... I am not a man more than usually timid but I never recall the days and nights I spent upon that island promontory (eight days and seven nights) without heartfelt thankfulness that I am somewhere else..."

"Gorgons and Chimaeras dire...pantomime deformations of our common manhood.  Such a population as only now and again surrounds us in the horrors of a nightmare." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Mosaic in front of St. Francis Church Kalaupapa
"I am not ashamed to act as mason or carpenter, when it is for the glory of God.  These ten years I have been on the mission I have built a church or chapel every year.  The habit I had at home of practising different kinds of work, is of immense use to me here." - Father Damien in a letter to his parents.

Poem or Song Lyrics- Kamiano
"I do not know what it is that requires my most urgent attention.  The Chapel at Kaluaha is absolutely necessary, but I shall not have time to do it myself, for it would keep me too long away from my dying parishioners at Kalawao.  The church of St. Philomena (here) must at all costs be enlarged ten feet a least.  The most urgent demands are made for it...However, 'He mea lealea no u wa hana kamana'  - The work of carpenter is pleasant to me." - Father Damien

"When, oh when shall it be given to me
To behold My God?
Oh, when shall the captivity of my wretched soul
Cease in this strange land where night and day
Weeping alone is my portion;
When, oh when shall I leave this valley of sorrow,
Where the only bread I eat is my continual tears?
When, oh when shall I see my well-beloved Lord?
Prince of the Heaves is he,
Guardian of my soul, my Hope, my Saviour,
May all..."  - Hawaiian hymn translated into English
"I must almost in every house change my methods. At one time I speak words of sweetness and consolation; at another I must add some bitterness because there is a sinner who refuses to pen h i eyes; and even as the thunder sometimes rolls with vehemence, so I now and again threaten a hardened soul with terrible chastisements, and this has often had good effect" - Father Damien on disciplining the residents.

St. Philomena Church, Kalawao
Reverend Sir,

I desire to express to you my admiration of the heroic and distinguished service you are rendering to the most unhappy of my subjects; and to pay, in some measure, a public tribute to the devotion, patience and unbounded charity with which you give yourself to the corporal and spiritual relief of these unfortunate people, who are necessarily deprived of the affectionate care of their relations and friends.

I know well that your labors and sacrifices have no other motive than the desire to do good to those in distress; and that you look for no reward but from the great God, our sovereign Lord, who directs and inspires you.  Nevertheless to satisfy my own earnest desire, I beg of you, Reverend Father, to accept the decoration of the Royal Order of Kalakaua, as a testimony of my sincere admiration for the efforts you are making to relieve the distress and lessen the sufferings of these afflicted people, as I myself had an occasion to see on my recent visit to the settlement.

I am,
Your friend,
Altar of St. Philomena Church, Kalawao

"Kindly remember me to all the Fathers in Louvain, to Gerard, Leonor and all the family. I am still able, but not without some difficulty, to stand every day at the altar, where I do not forget any of you. Do you, in return, pray and get prayers for me, who am being gently, drawn toward the grave.  May God strength me, and give me the grace of perseverance and of a happy death." - Father Damien in a letter to Belgium

Death of Father Damien
"I try to make slowly my way of the Cross and hope to be soon on top of my Golgotha." - Father Damien in a response letter to Edward Clifford

Quotation sources:

Father Damien by Pam Brown, LDA Edition
Damien the Leper by John Farrow, Sheed and Ward


pelerin said...

I have only just discovered your blog with your magnificent photographs. Very moving to read about St Damien and see the pictures you have put on knowing that you are close to where he lived and worked. I have read some of your other posts now and look forward to following your blog in future.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing, Esther. We had a wonderful feast in honor Of St. Damien.

EC Gefroh said...

Pelerin, thank you very much. BTW, the places where Father Damien walked, worked, lived and died have a very special, heavenly feeling.

That is wonderful Barbara.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful pictures and quotes. How blessed we are to have great examples such as St. Damien to help us in our Catholic faith!

EC Gefroh said...

Thank you. We are indeed blessed. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I have chosen St. Damien of Molokai as my patron saint... or perhaps he chose me. =)

His courage, grace, and charity was amazing and of great example for all to aspire.

Thank you and God Bless You St. Damien.


EC Gefroh said...

Lee, what a wonderful patron saint to have!!! God bless,

Anonymous said...

PLEASE PRAY FOR US, ST. DAMIEN! ST. Damien is a Patron Saint of mine! I have Hidradenitis Suppurativa, which is considered, "The LEPROSY of the 21st Century!"
Face Book
Phyllis Braniff

EC Gefroh said...

You do well in praying for Saint Damien's intercession Phyllis. God bless.

yustinus suhartono said...

A Japanesewoman who suffered a chronic cancer (ignoring advices to undergo kemotheraphy),flew to Molokai island was totally cured after month of praying at the tomb of Father Damian

EC Gefroh said...

Praise God! Mahalo for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Father Damien has become a special patron for me. His feast day and my birthday are both celebrated on May 10th.
St. Damien, pray for us.

Watered garden said...

I am presenting Saint Damien to my woman ministry tomorrow evening and your blog entry will help make my talk more interesting with the quotes and wonderful photos. Thank you.

EC Gefroh said...

Jackie, you are welcome! Thanks for letting me know. God bless.