Aloha Saint Damien: Alleluia!
This is an ongoing blog about Father Damien from Molokai Dispatch reporter Megan Stephenson.
Proclaimed by the thousands of pilgrims in Rome, and officially by Governor Lingle, today is Saint Damien Day!
Canonization ceremonies are usually held outside in St. Peter’s Square, able to hold up to 500,000 people. However, rain storms on Saturday threatened again on Sunday morning in Rome, and so the canonization ceremony was moved indoors to St. Peter’s Basilica. Many of those in the Hawaiian delegations described their position, inside or out, as feeling like sardines, as inside was maxed out at around 60,000 people, and another 40,000 spilled onto the square to watch the litany. But the wait and the crowd were worth it, as one Herald blogger wrote, because their Damien was now a saint!
The Kalaupapa delegation was given prime seating inside, and one patient with ‘miracle lady’ Audrey Toguchi were among those to offer the relic in thanks to the Holy Father (the relic will then make a tour in the next few weeks, ending in Molokai).
Pope Benedict XVI led a smooth service elevating five extraordinary souls to sainthood.
Saint Damien was also featured in a number of publications over the weekend, ranging from fellow Catholics commemorating, to national, leading newspapers.
• A parish from New York state blogged about the renamed St. Damien parish (http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2009/10/hawaiian-church-to-be-renamed-for-st-damien.html);
• An editorial appeared in the New York Times about the stigma of leprosy and Father Damien’s message (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/opinion/11sun2.html?_r=1);
• An article calling Damien the first Ironman for his endurance in American Spectator (http://spectator.org/archives/2009/10/09/the-first-ironman-of-hawaii);
• The Voice of America wrote of Damien’s story (http://www.voanews.com/english/AmericanLife/2009-10-09-voa25.cfm);
• USA Today asked if the honors of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize and Damien’s sainthood inspired people (http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2009/10/barack-obama-sainthood-nobel-peace-prize-catholic-damien/1);
• The first news piece on Wikipedia’s news segment on Oct. 11 was Father Damien’s canonization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page)