Pope Canonizes Father Damien
Belgian missionary, four others elevated to sainthood
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2009 2:44 PM CDT

(Newser) – Father Damien, the Belgian missionary who ministered to leprosy victims on the Hawaiian island of Molokai before contracting and dying of the disease, was canonized today. The 19th-century priest, the founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and three others were elevated to sainthood in a ceremony that drew tens of thousands to St. Peter's Basilica and the surrounding area, the Catholic News Service reports.

Father Damien spoke for "rejected people of all kinds: the incurably ill (victims of AIDS or other diseases), abandoned children, disoriented youths, exploited women, neglected elderly people and oppressed minorities," the ceremony's official program read.