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Hawaii diocese receives word of Damien miracle

Fr Damien DeVeuster, the Belgian priest who devoted his life to leprosy patients on Moloka'i and then died of the disease, is edging closer toward sainthood.

The Diocese of Honolulu will formally establish a commission to investigate a newly reported medical miracle attributed to Damien, said Patrick Downes, the diocesan spokesman.

If that investigation finds legitimacy in the claims, and the reported miracle withstands the scrutiny of theologians, doctors and scientists with the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Damien could be canonised. It requires the pope's approval.

Details on the reported miracle were scarce yesterday. Downes said a local doctor came forward to report a patient's spontaneous, unexplained recovery, attributed to Damien's heavenly intervention. Downes believed that the healing occurred in Hawai'i sometime in the past few years.

"There has been reported a miracle an alleged, unexplained healing," he said. "This is hopefully the miracle needed to get him through the final step toward canonisation."

To fulfill the Church's criteria for canonisation, the commission must essentially prove to the Vatican that there was no scientific explanation for the patient's recovery.

Fr Joseph Grimaldi, vicar general of the Honolulu Diocese, is heading the canonisation cause locally. Church officials said Fr Emilio Vega Garcia, postulator general with the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the order Damien belonged to, is in Honolulu from Rome to investigate the reported miracle.

Honolulu Advertiser

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28 Feb 2003