Stewart: Leper Priest of Molokaipa

Stewart: Leper Priest of Molokaipa

by Richard Stewart
     
 

ISBN-10: 0824823222

ISBN-13: 9780824823221

Pub. Date: 08/28/2000

Publisher: University of Hawaii Press, The

When a leprosy epidemic gripped the Hawaiian Islands in the 1860s, near panic ensued. All that was known about this grossly disfiguring disease was that it was contagious, incurable, and preventable only by the banishment of those afflicted. Lepers thus became the "untouchables" and were taken from their families and exiled to Moloka'i's remote Kalaupapa peninsula.

Overview

When a leprosy epidemic gripped the Hawaiian Islands in the 1860s, near panic ensued. All that was known about this grossly disfiguring disease was that it was contagious, incurable, and preventable only by the banishment of those afflicted. Lepers thus became the "untouchables" and were taken from their families and exiled to Moloka'i's remote Kalaupapa peninsula. There, confined to a squalid settlement plagued by food and water shortages, a place where there was no professional medical care, no clergy, and no law, they lived out their meager lives while awaiting lonely deaths.

Then in May 1873, a young priest arrived at the settlement. Father Damien De Veuster had voluntarily become the first resident clergyman and part-time physician for the leper colony. Living among the lepers, Damien knowingly took the risk of direct physical contact thousands of times, administering the sacraments and cleaning and bandaging wounds, while he pursued his dream of turning Kalaupapa into a vital community. Hailed around the world as a heroic Christian martyr, he was decorated by the Hawaiian Kingdom for his service and celebrated by Robert Louis Stevenson in an eloquent and stirring testimonial.

Leper Priest of Moloka'i traces the life of Father Damienfrom 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 among 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 willfulness 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780824823221
Publisher:
University of Hawaii Press, The
Publication date:
08/28/2000
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
456
Sales rank:
851,704
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.02(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsix
Prologue1
1Exile: Day One3
2Birth, Childhood, and Beyond15
3The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary25
4The Quest Begins: Hawai'i34
5Puna: Father Damien's First Parish47
6Kohala-Hamakua: The Second Parish65
7The Calm before the Storm of Moloka'i76
8Exile: The First Weeks93
9A Prisoner Forever!109
10Free at Last!125
11Like the Christ: Priest, Physician, Carpenter138
12"We Lepers ..."150
13Hutchison, the Survivor; Emerson, the Courageous Physician164
14His Finest Works187
15A Medal of Honor and a Crown of Thorns203
16The Year of the Nurses219
17Father Damien Denied234
18Damien, the Leper250
19Damien, the Martyr?261
20The Valley of the Shadow274
21"I Am Brother Joseph... I Have Come to Help"286
22Death's Dark Shadow301
23Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me318
24Hawaiian Sunset335
25Requiem for a Priest351
26Accolades and a Preacher's Curse365
27Response to the Curse380
28A Second Saint Damien387
Epilogue397
Notes405
Glossary431
Bibliography433
Index441

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