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Kalawao in Kalawao County, Hawaii — Hawaiian Island Archipelago (Pacific Ocean)
 

St. Philomena Church and Cemetery

 
 
St. Philomena Church and Cemetery Marker image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of Thomas P. Martin, January 22, 2015
1. St. Philomena Church and Cemetery Marker
Inscription.  St. Philomena Church is the only remaining building from the early settlement at Kalawao. The original church on this site was built by Brother Victorin Bertrant in 1872, about a year before Father Damien arrived at the settlement. Assisted by patients, Father Damien remodeled St. Philomena in 1876 and added a new wing and a tower. He rebuilt the church with stone in 1888. During 1987-88, St. Philomena Church was restored to its condition of December 24, 1932, the date of the last regular church service here. It was rededicated on October 22, 1988.

The Sacred Heart Brothers Cemetery, immediately to the right of the church, contains the grave of Brother Joseph Dutton, the original grave of Father Damien, and a marker commemorating him. This cemetery is only a small portion of a much larger graveyard at St. Philomena. Over 7000 people have been buried on the peninsula since January 1866.

Father Damien de Veuster
Father Damien arrived at Kalawao on May 10, 1873. He devoted his life to the settlement's patients. Damien sought practical solutions to the patients' problems, and his fluency in the Hawaiian language gained
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him trust and support. Early in 1885, Father Damien was officially diagnosed as having leprosy, although he had noted probable symptoms a few years earlier. He died on April 15, 1889.

Captions
[Top (left to right)]
• Father Damien de Veuster, 33, in 1873, the year he arrived at Kalawao.
• St. Philomena Church after Father Damien's remodeling of 1888.
• Father Damien's body was returned to his native Belgium in 1936.
[Bottom (left to right)] 1872; 1876; 1888-89.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesChurches & Religion. A significant historical year for this entry is 1888.
 
Location. 21° 10.621′ N, 156° 56.897′ W. Marker is in Kalawao, Hawaii, in Kalawao County. Marker can be reached from Damien Road, on the left when traveling south. Church is within Kalaupapa National Historic Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Kalaupapa HI 96742, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within walking distance of this marker. The Baldwin Home (a few steps from this marker).
 
Also see . . .
1. Saint Damien of Molokai Catholic Church & Parishes. Website of the parish that includes St. Philomena and is named after Father Damien. (Submitted on October 27, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.)
St. Philomena Church and Cemetery Marker image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of Thomas P. Martin, January 22, 2015
2. St. Philomena Church and Cemetery Marker
Marker is along the rock wall to the right.
 

2. Historic Structure Report: St. Philomena Catholic Church (Father Damien's Church) (PDF). National Park Service report on the church's condition in preparation for its restoration. The report includes a detailed history with photos of the leprosy epidemic, the settlement and the church. Note: Report is 377 pages long. (Submitted on October 27, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 

3. Kalawao. Wikipedia entry on the remote site of two leper colonies, which is within the smallest county in the United States in terms of land size and population. (Submitted on October 27, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 

4. Father Damien. Wikipedia entry on the venerated priest. (Submitted on October 27, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 
 
Father Damien de Veuster image. Click for full size.
Via Saint Damien of Molokai Catholic Church & Parishes
3. Father Damien de Veuster
Father Damien was 33 when he arrived at St. Philomena in 1873 (left) to minister to the Kalawao leprosy settlement's patients. He later (right) contracted the disease and died from it. He was credited with two miracles and venerated as a saint.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 27, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 26, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 309 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 26, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.   3. submitted on October 27, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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Mar. 1, 2024