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Damien the Leper Paperback – December 1, 1998

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Farrow took a sabbatical from his career as a film director to publish this 1954 biography of the leper priest. The text follows Father Damien from his roots in Belgium as Joseph de Veuster through his entrance into the church and ultimate destiny at the leper colony on the island of Molokai, HI.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

The great adventure of Damien the Leper began quietly over a century ago. Since then, his remarkable story has become legend throughout the world.

Joseph De Veuster left his secure life in Belgium, thrusting aside all thoughts of personal danger and spending the rest of his days as Father Damien comforting the sick and the dying. Though virtually entombed among the living dead of a leper colony on the island of Molokai, Father Damien managed to find beauty and enchantment in the lush surroundings. His extraordinary journey of the spirit comes to life in John Farrow's splendid biography, which has become a classic over the years and is sure to endure as long as people thrill to deeds of valor and pay homage to the great spiritual truths so perfectly reflected in this unforgettable story of courage, sacrifice, and devotion.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Image; 1 edition (December 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385489110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385489119
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book tells the story/history of Father Damien of Molokai, a most remarkable man whose indefatigable work in a notorious Hawaiian leper colony gave him the international status of the Mother Theresa of his time. It is well-written, lively, and most readable; but it is also terribly romanticized, Damien IS saintly. Perhaps he was. Readers should take minor note that the main text was published originally in 1937 (according to an older edition of this book that I own).
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I have read this book five times and I fully expect to do so once again. It is the true story of a Priest from Belgium who, in the late 1800`s, cheerfully accepted, even demanded an assignment which would cause people of lesser intestinal fortitude to run away: Molokai, a leper colony in Hawaii. His description of the sorry state of the people is enough to make one ill. Yet, through his own unconditional love for his fellow man, took it upon himself, to feed them, cleanse their disgusting wounds, bury the dead with his own hands, cousel them, hear their confessions and prepare them to meet their maker after death. It is a moving tale of a man who totally abandoned himself in favour of his God and his bretheren. This healthy, athletic man knew that by associating with these human outcasts, he would likely fall victim to this dreaded disease and, in fact he did. It would be extremely difficult to imagine any person giving more of himself for the benefit of others. By anyone`s definition, Damien DeVeuster, `Damien The Leper` was a true saint. His story should be required reading for all because it would be sinful to allow the lessons to fade into obscurity. Bless his lily-white soul.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book about five years ago and am now reading it a second time. It is more stunning and compelling than I remember. John Farrow brilliantly takes us into the heart, mind and soul of a man who gave all of himself to Christ. It is an adventure on every level, a delight for the senses, as Damien fights his way through the jungles, waterfalls and diseases of the tropics to bring God to the islanders. When he is sent to Molokai, Damien faces evil head-on in every possible way, and he meets it, each time, with other-worldly selflessness and a determination that is completely unstoppable. Few people realize that he was left on the shores of Molokai with nothing but an extra shirt to wear. He had no food, no water, no shelter (he lived under a tree), no helper; and he was faced with the task of caring for 800 lepers who had no doctors, no food supply, no medical supplies, no water supply, no clothing, and who often died from exposure, not leperosy. Mothers resorted to prostitution to win food for their children; many of the lepers spent their time drunk on a sickening liquor they concocted. Damien transformed these people and the island into a place of self-respect and decency. Truly, everyone should read this book if only to see what one person can do with thier life. Of course, Damien dies after several years with "his lepers," but his legacy continues to shine. The Catholic Church will beatify him as a saint in October 2009. Don't miss reading this book -- it will change you.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the best book I have ever read. As to its literary quality it is perfection. I read it at least once every year. It is resplendent with richness of imagery in painting the most vivid pictures of Blessed Damien's life and the Hawaiian backdrop in which he lived with his beloved lepers. Fr Damien was completely in tune with God His Creator and so willing to lay down his life for those most scorned and abandoned by the world. His life--all his ways-- reminds me that my life can also make a difference for others, and it inspires me to have courage no matter how dark the skies in my life may appear. Fr. Damien was truly Christ-like. This book captures that and is sheer joy to read.
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A friend gave me a copy of this 25 years ago. I thought the title intriguing, and started it not knowing what to expect. What unfolded was a riveting and delicious and fascinating tale of a man driven to serve mankind selflessly in the name of his God; and that desire took him to the farthest shores of the earth and to the most remote and unloved spot. But the remoteness of the location and the unique attributes of his new companions did not dim Damien's enthusiasm for a second, nor quell the enormous light that shined within him. This is an almost unheard-of, yet true, story of a fascinating man in a fascinating time and location and environment. The book is written with such love and beauty that it sweeps the reader up in the story and allows him/her to experience it along with Damien. Some of it is so hauntingly spiritual that it gives one goosebumps. It's that good. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
“Advice To Be Read on Shipboard

To find the good in a thing at once is a sign of good taste. Some seek the good in life, others the ill. There is nothing that has no good in it. But many have such a scent that amidst a thousand excellences they fix upon a single defect as if they were scavengers of men’s minds and hearts. So they draw up a balance sheet of defects which does more credit to their bad taste than to their intelligence. They lead a sad life, nourishing themselves on bitters and garbage. They have the luckier taste who amongst a thousand defects seize upon a single beauty that they may have hit upon by chance…

His hand lingered over the paper for a moment. From past experience he had found that young missionaries, newly ordained, full of the importance of their mission, were sometimes, in their zeal, overharsh to their charges. And intolerance was the last thing he wished.” (pages xvii-xviii)

Evidence this missionary leader:

Was aware some young missionaries he sent were not mature enough to be tolerant of other ways of living.

Did not care enough to figure out a way to teach tolerance to young missionaries.

Was blinded by religious zeal.

Did not care that some missionaries were overharsh.

Priest Damien, a Catholic missionary, went to Molokai. He committed his life to helping others suffering from leprosy. He got leprosy too. Appears he gained respect of Hawaiian royalty who visited him, the Bishop who sent him, sick ones he cared for, and many people around the world. Story offers insights into life of a missionary, island of Molokai, Hawaiian history, and history of leprosy.
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