St. Damien, a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, worked on the island of Hawaii for eight years before volunteering in 1873 to work at a leprosy colony on Molokai, where he served as pastor, doctor and counsellor to some 800 patients. In 1884 he contracted leprosy but, refusing to leave the island for treatment, continued to work until the month before his death at age 49 in 1889.
Pope Benedict the XVI said at his canonisation in October 2009, St. Damien "invites us to open our eyes toward the 'leprosies' that disfigure the humanity of our brothers and sisters and that today still call, more than for our generosity, for the charity of our serving presence."
Visit his dedicated sites today:
Resource on Damien for Secondary school students is available by clicking here.
Eustáquio van Lieshout ss.cc.
He was born as Huub van Lieshout in Aarle-Rixtel in the diocese of 's-Hertogenbosch in the province of North Brabant of the Netherlands. While still a young priest in Europe, in recognition of his work, the King of Belgium knighted him in the Order of Leopold. He was pastor for a while of Roelofarendsveen in the Netherlands.
Career in Brazil
Van Lieshout, with two other SS.CC. priests and three brothers, arrived in Brazil in 1925, in response to the call of a local bishop. There he tried to follow the example of Fr Damien de Veuster SS.CC.
In Agua Suja the population started a bloodless uprising to stop him from going to Poá where he was sent by his superiors. In obedience, he travelled to Poá where he opposed Spiritism. His blessings and cures of the sick made the little village a center of pilgrimage (as well as the troubles that came with it).
Railroads were not able to furnish transportation for the great crowds; the lack of adequate housing meant that not even sanitary conditions prevailed. The police were no longer able to maintain order. Merchants sold bad food at high prices and thieves and robbers roamed the pilgrimage area preying on innocent victims. Father Eustáquio was ordered to leave his parish to prevent these conditions from continuing. Despite this, tremendous crowds followed him everywhere. Brazilian authorities became so alarmed that they ordered him out of towns and villages. No one had anything against this priest, but they were afraid of the crowds and the troubles that would follow.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro instructed him to leave the capital city by midnight. Subsequently, a fanatical crowd blocked traffic and invaded church rectories looking for him. Somehow, he managed to find a hiding place and passed a year in peace and happiness. His final appointment was as pastor of Belo Horizonte, where he lived the last two years of his life. He was given an assistant who was able to control the crowds. No one was permitted to enter the rectory without a card of introduction. In this fashion, Father Eustáquio was able to give himself altogether to the work of his parish. After a week of sickness caused by an insect bite, he died on August 30, 1943.
At his death, on his body, was found a penitential pointed iron chain, buried so deep in his flesh that it could not be removed without making wounds. Miracles are attributed to him.
Following a December 19, 2005 rescript from the Holy See declaring authentic a miracle attributed to his intercession, Father Eustáquio was beatified on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 15, 2006, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil at a liturgy conducted by Walmor de Oliveira de Azevedo, Metropolitan Archbishop of Belo Horizonte, and presided over by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.