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Father Damien of Molokai Becomes a Saint on October 11, 2009

Father Damien, a Roman Catholic priest who cared for the patients of the Kalaupapa leper colony on Molokai, was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on October 11, 2009.


Over 550 members of Hawaii's Roman Catholic community, including 11 patients from Kalaupapa, made the pilgrimage to Italy to attend the historic event. Seawind Tours & Travel arranged for the travel, hotel, and activities of the group. The tour started in Damien's home country of Belgium, where events honoring the priest were attended by King Albert II and Queen Paola. The tour's ultimate stop was in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City for the canonization.


Approximately 50,000 people attended the canonization, according to the Vatican. Hawaii's 550 members included a choir and halau that also performed at the basilicas of St. Peter, St. John Lateran, and St. Paul Outside the Walls.

  • Members of the Hawaii contingent view the coffin that brought Father Damien back to Flanders in the Damiaan Museum (Damien's former home) in Ninde, a hamlet of Tremelo, Belgium on October 3, 2009.

  • A view of a room of Father Damien's childhood home in Ninde, Ninde, a hamlet of Tremelo, Belgium on October 3, 2009.

  • King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium, adorned by lei from Hawaii, attend a mass for Father Damien in Tremelo, Belgium on October 3, 2009.

  • Leimomi Ho, kumu hula of Keali'ika'apunihonua Ke'ena A'o Hula, smiles backstage before performing at a celebration for Father Damien in Tremelo, Belgium on October 4, 2009.

  • A member of Keali'ika'apunihonua Ke'ena A'o Hula performs an oli at a performance celebrating the life of Father Damien in Tremelo, Belgium on October 4, 2009.

  • Halau Keali'ika'apunihonua Ke'ena A'o Hula perform at a concert celebrating the life of Father Damien in Tremelo, Belgium on October 4, 2009.

  • Father Chris Keahi, head of the Sacred Hearts order in Hawai'i, displays a relic of Father Damien during a Mass at St. Joseph Chapel in Louvain, Belgium on October 5, 2009.

  • Calvin Liu, Robert Mondoy, and other members of the choir representing the parishes of Hawaii, admire the buildings along the canals of Bruges, Belgium on October 5, 2009.

  • Crowds gather in St. Peter's Square for the canonization of Father Damien in Vatican City on October 11, 2009.

  • Members of the Hawaii contingent sing a hymn during the canonization of Father Damien at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on October 11, 2009.

  • Pope Benedict XVI makes his way through the crowd before St. Peter's Basilica before the canonization of Father Damien on October 11, 2009.

  • Crowds gather near the obelisk in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City for the canonization of Father Damien on October 11, 2009.

  • The Hawaii contingent visited Trevi fountain during the Father Damien canonization tour on October 7, 2009, in Rome, Italy.

  • The Hawaii tour makes a stop at the obelisk in Piazza Navona on October 7, 2009, in Rome, Italy.

  • Members of the Hawaii Roman Catholic Church conduct a service for Father Damien in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on October 9, 2009.

  • Members of the Hawaii tour pose for a shot in Assisi, Italy on October 9, 2009.

  • Members of Hawaii's media accompanying the Hawaii tour for Father Damien's canonization pose for a shot in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy on October 10, 2009.

  • The Hawaii choir and halau attend a mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Italy on October 12, 2009.

  • The Hawaii halau dances a hula outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Italy on October 12, 2009.

  • The Hawaii halau walks down the aisle in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, Italy on October 12, 2009.

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