Belgium’s Father Damien to be canonised
The Belgian Cardinal Danneels and the Bishop of Honolulu celebrated a special mass on Sunday in honour of the 19th century missionary who did so much to ease the suffering of those with leprosy in Molokai.
The municipal authorities in Tremelo had invited the American President Barack Obama to attend the celebrations.
However, President Obama was unable to attend and was represented by the new US Ambassador to Belgium Howard W. Gutman.
King Albert II and Queen Paola also attended the ceremony, along with Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy.
Flags displaying an effigy of Father Damien lined the streets of Tremelo in Flemish Brabant, where the ceremony was held.
He is set to be canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on 11 October at the Vatican.
Father Damien was a 19th century Flemish missionary who ministered to leprosy patients in Hawaii.
He worked in Honolulu for nine years before spending sixteen years on Molokai, before ultimately succumbing to leprosy in 1889.
Father Damien is revered in Hawaii, and will finally receive recognition from Europe for his work.