Cover image for Leper Priest of Moloka'i : the Father Damien story
Leper Priest of Moloka'i : the Father Damien story
Stewart, Richard D. (Physician)
Publication Information:
Honolulu : University of Hawai'i Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
ix, 444 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BX4705.D25 S74 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BX4705.D25 S74 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BX4705.D25 S74 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
BX4705.D25 S74 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
BX4705.D25 S74 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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Leper Priest of Moloka'i traces the life of Father Damien from his boyhood in rural Belgium to his death at the leper settlement after sixteen years of remarkable accomplishments. Damien overcame major obstacles to become a Catholic priest and serve as a missionary in Hawai'i. To his spiritual ministry he added the practice of medicine and the skill of a master builder of chapels, churches, and houses, both professions that he taught himself. He decried human suffering, and in his medical practice he emulated the example of his patron saint, Saint Damien the physician, who led many to Christianity by the example of the Good Samaritan.

This biography presents and analyzes much new information about Damien and his years in Hawai'i. The correspondence between Damien, his colleagues in the Catholic church, his Protestant supporters, and agents of the Hawaiian Board of Health gives a fuller understanding of the extent of Damien's work at the settlement and the tensions underlying his relations with Church bureaucrats, who were both impressed by his energy and zeal and irritated by his willfullness and independence. But even his detractors could not deny that he was almost singlehandedly responsible for tremendous improvements to Kalaupapa in the face of overwhelming odds. This is the story of one humble man with faith in God and in himself, who faced gargantuan challenges and triumphed.

Author Notes

Richard Stewart is a semi-retired professor of The Medical College of Wisconsin who continues as an active teacher. His interest in the influence of medicine and disease in the lives of famous people led him to a fifteen-year investigation into the life and career of Father Damien De Veuster

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

In 1883, Father Damien De Veuster, a courageous 33-year-old Belgian priest, chose to minister to a sadly neglected flock: the lepers of Moloka'i, Hawaii. Frustrated and frightened by the leprosy epidemic that plagued the islands in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Hawaiian government had adopted a strict segregation policy, establishing a bleak leper colony on the northern coast of Moloka'i. When Father Damien arrived at the settlement, living quarters were primitive, food was scarce, and medical care was usually unavailable. Within a few short months, the dedicated Sacred Heart priest had assumed the exhausting roles of spiritual advisor, physician, and master builder. Eventually contracting leprosy himself, the remarkable Father Damien continued to serve and to advocate for a steadily increasing population of outcasts until his death in 1889. Rather than portraying his subject as a plaster saint, Stewart provides a full-bodied portrait of an inspirational, yet admittedly flawed, human being. --Margaret Flanagan

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. 1
1 Exile: Day Onep. 3
2 Birth, Childhood, and Beyondp. 15
3 The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Maryp. 25
4 The Quest Begins: Hawai'ip. 34
5 Puna: Father Damien's First Parishp. 47
6 Kohala-Hamakua: The Second Parishp. 65
7 The Calm before the Storm of Moloka'ip. 76
8 Exile: The First Weeksp. 93
9 A Prisoner Forever!p. 109
10 Free at Last!p. 125
11 Like the Christ: Priest, Physician, Carpenterp. 138
12 "We Lepers ..."p. 150
13 Hutchison, the Survivor; Emerson, the Courageous Physicianp. 164
14 His Finest Worksp. 187
15 A Medal of Honor and a Crown of Thornsp. 203
16 The Year of the Nursesp. 219
17 Father Damien Deniedp. 234
18 Damien, the Leperp. 250
19 Damien, the Martyr?p. 261
20 The Valley of the Shadowp. 274
21 "I Am Brother Joseph... I Have Come to Help"p. 286
22 Death's Dark Shadowp. 301
23 Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Mep. 318
24 Hawaiian Sunsetp. 335
25 Requiem for a Priestp. 351
26 Accolades and a Preacher's Cursep. 365
27 Response to the Cursep. 380
28 A Second Saint Damienp. 387
Epiloguep. 397
Notesp. 405
Glossaryp. 431
Bibliographyp. 433
Indexp. 441