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Father Damien Museum, Oahu
The tiny little museum, hidden behind St. Augustine By The Sea Catholic Church on the beach in Waikiki (on Oahu), was devoted to the memory of Father Damien, a catholic priest from Belgium, known for his humanitarian work on the island of Molokai. In 2001, a ceiling leak forced the removal of the Father Damien exhibit. There is no set date for a reopening of the Father Damien Museum, however there are several items related to Father Damien’s life on display in the nearby St. Augustine By The Sea Catholic Church, located at 130 Ohua Avenue in Waikiki.
The story of Father Damien shows that even paradise has its share of tragedy, and it came to Hawaii in the form of the terrible disease known as leprosy (Hansen’s Disease). The first documented case of Hansen’s Disease occurred in Hawaii in 1848. It is not known when or precisely how leprosy arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, but leprosy was detected as early as the 1830’s. Its rapid spread and then-unknown cure necessitated total isolation of the sufferers. The area of Molokai known as the Kalaupapa peninsula (possibly the most gorgeous spot in Hawaii) is surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean and cut-off from the rest of Molokai by 1,600-foot sea cliffs. Kalaupapa, once the perfect location for a leper colony, is now the spectacular Kalaupapa National Historical Park (itself a hidden gem).
Father Damien came to in Honolulu in 1864 and spent the next 15 years ministering to Hawaiian natives. In 1873, Father Damien arrived at the leper settlement on Molokai, where he provided spiritual and medical assistance to Hawaiian natives suffering from leprosy, until he himself succumbed to the disease in 1889. Father Damien remains a hero in Hawaii and a Saint in the Catholic Church. Father Damien’s sainthood was approved on July 3, 2008 by Pope Benedict XVl. The canonization ceremony took place in Rome on Sunday, October 11, 2009.
To donate to the construction, renovation, and restoration of the Damien Museum, contact Father Lane:
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