First statute of a Catholic saint hits Capitol

St. Damien of Moloka’i, formerly Father Damien of Hawaii (born Jozef De Veuster in Belgium in 1840), was officially canonized last month in Vatican City. St. Damien spent his life catering to the lepers on Hawaii’s northernmost islands, and his canonization is the result of more than two decades of theological wrangling.

The CVC isn’t the only place on Capitol Hill to find St. Damien: The large black-and-white photograph behind Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s (D-Hawaii) desk is of a leper cemetery from one of St. Damien’s monasteries.

Abercrombie has been a lifelong admirer of St. Damien, and he is a longtime member of the Father Damien Society, a statewide civic organization. Last month, Abercrombie led an official White House delegation to Belgium for a Mass in St. Damien’s honor.

Reactions to the news of the statue’s sainthood were universally positive. As one staffer put it, “Lord knows we could use a few less sinners and a few more saints around here!”