Father Damiaan named Greatest Belgian ever

2nd December 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 December 2005, BRUSSELS — Jozef De Veuster, better known as Father Damiaan, was voted as the Greatest Belgian ever on Thursday night.

2 December 2005

BRUSSELS — Jozef De Veuster, better known as Father Damiaan, was voted as the Greatest Belgian ever on Thursday night.

Father Damiaan (1840-89)

Father Damiaan's work with the leprous in the Pacific won him hearts among Belgian voters, as he eclipsed the claims of Paul Janssen and Eddy Merckx.

He now takes his place among the greatest Europeans ever, alongside the likes of Winston Churchill (UK), Konrad Adenauer (Germany) and Pim Fortuyn (the Netherlands), who have won similar votes in their respective countries.

The final vote was held in conjunction with a show in the Oude Vleeshalle in Mechelen which was broadcast live by VRT channel Canvas.

However, the vote has spanned several months, with countless television and radio programmes and newspaper reports devoted to the debate.
Initially, 111 achievers were nominated to become the Greatest Belgian and 25,000 voters selected the 10 finalists, namely:

Father Damiaan
Andreas Vesalius
Peter Paul Rubens
Paul Janssen
Eddy Merckx
Gerardus Mercator
Hendrik Conscience
Father Daens
Jacques Brel

The final vote started on 24 November and during the final show on Thursday night, the list of 10 nominees was reduced to just three. The laureate was eventually selected from those three candidates.

In the final phase, the last three candidates started with a clean slate and television viewers could only SMS or phone through their votes, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Friday.

Eventual winner, Father Damiaan (1840-89) grew up in Tremelo before leaving for missionary work at the end of 1863 in Hawaii.

He was sent in 1873 to the island of Molokaï and stayed there for the rest of his life to work with those suffering from leprosy. He eventually died in 1889 from leprosy, but had become world famous in the meantime

Second-place getter Eddy Merckx won 525 cycling races on the road, including the Milan-San Remo (seven times), the Paris-Roubaix (3) and the Tour de France (5).

Dr Paul Janssen established in 1953 the company Janssen Pharmaceutica, which is now one of the world's most important pharmaceutical companies. He developed 80 new medicines, of which five are on the list of vital medicines recommended by the World Health Organisation.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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