Sunday, February 15, 2009

Countdown to Sainthood

In a public consistory next Saturday morning, the Pope is expected to announce the canonization date of Blessed Damien deVeuster (1840-1889), the Belgian missionary to the Hawaiian leper-colony of Molokai who's been adopted as an unofficial patron of HIV/AIDS sufferers.

With his final miracle -- a local woman's cure from cancer -- having cleared the investigatory process last May and formally approved by B16 in early July, reports from the islands indicate that deVeuster will be formally granted the honors of the altar come October, at which time he'll join Frances Xavier Cabrini, Elizabeth Ann Seton, John Neumann, Philippine Duchesne, Katharine Drexel and Mother Theodore Guerin in the ranks of America's Saints.

Beatified in 1995, Damien's lead collaborator and eventual successor in the Molokai colony, New York-bred Mother Marianne Cope, was likewise raised to the penultimate rank in 2005.

Observed universally on 10 May, Hawaii's celebration of the "leper priest" -- who died at 49 after contracting the disease -- traditionally takes place on the 15 April anniversary of his death.