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Today is the birthday of Father Damien, born Joseph de Veuster in Tremelo, Belgium (1840). He served the leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. At that time, victims were dumped off the boat in the shallows because the captains were terrified to go ashore. Doctors left medicine on the beach and fled. Damien, however, dressed the wounds of his patients himself, ate with them, and buried them when they died. He erected six chapels and two orphanages, built beds, made coffins, and dug graves.
Eventually, he developed the illness himself, and he died on the island. He said: “I would not be cured if the price of the cure was that I must leave the island and give up my work. I am perfectly resigned to my lot. Do not feel sorry for me.”