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Holy Man: Father Damien of Molokai Reprint Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0824809201
ISBN-10: 0824809203
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Editorial Reviews

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"Beautifully written, deeply perceptive." -- Los Angeles Times

From The Washington Post

"An absolutely fascinating book."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press; Reprint edition (February 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824809203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824809201
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
"Holy Man" is undoubtedly the finest and most scholarly work to date on this topic. Prior to Daws' work, the overwhelming majority of books on this topic have been somewhat biased as they were produced by Catholic clergy and lay writers. Daws has brought the secular historian's skill to this subject and has produced a truly balanced account of the life and work of Father Joseph DeVeuster. Only a visit to the Molokai, Hawaii, settlements of Kalawao and Kalaupapa will provide the reader with a more detailed account of Father Damian's life and work among the lepers of Molokai. Father Daimian was beautified in 1993. A church inquiry is underway to determine whether or not this "Holy Man" should be made a Catholic saint. "Holy Man" is required reading for anyone even marginally interested in Hawaiian history. In the short period of time this work has been in print, it has become required reading for all students of Hawaiian History, American approaches to chronic and incurable disease and Catholic doctrine pertaining to leprosy and lepers. Daws has written a masterful account of the life and works of this important nineteenth century Catholic clergyman. "Holy Man" is the definitive work on Father Damian and is likely to remain so well into the next century. Father Damian was buried on the island of Molokai until earlier this century when his remains were exhumed and re-interred in his home of Louvain, Belgium. Today, only his hand remains buried on the island of Molokai. The hand is widely regarded as a religious relic.
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Format: Paperback
I visited the leper colony on the island of Molokai, the villages of Kalawao and Kalaupapa last March and this book was recommended to me. I picked it up from a gift shop there as I went round visiting the sites of Fr Damien's enormous and extensive ministry. I also heard from the tour guides, stories of the zeal and dedication with which he ministered to the ill-fated leprosy patients. I also knew about him from other sources.

The book is a wonderful read. It brings to the light of the world a rather obscure life of a Catholic priest who belonged to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts Fathers and worked in the mission of Hawaii. His devotion and dedication to the ministry in favor of the lepers and his eventual martyrdom as a leper seemed to have moved this non-Catholic writer to go into detailed research and strenuous investigation to bring out such a classic work on the subject. Gavan Daws does not idealize Fr Damien's life or make him a superman. According to him Fr Damien was an ordinary man, a priest with his own frailties and flaws, at the same time a hero and a martyr worthy to be called `holy.' The book in fact, is more than a mere biography of the leper priest. A lot of research and study has gone into the writing of this book which is a story of leprosy in the Hawaiian islands, a history of the Church in the second half of the nineteenth century, besides being the life of a saint-to-be. I hope that the book will inspire ordinary people to make deep personal commitments and fulfill them with extraordinary devotion and fervor.
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By Anna on January 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
When people analyze the life of a soon-to-be saint, such as Damien, it's not uncommon for them to gloss over any imperfections. This book, thankfully, doesn't do that. What it does do is show you a very human man, not an intellectual, not the star of his religious community or even his family, but a very devoted man who made an incredible difference in the lives of so many who others wouldn't even touch. Read it.
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Format: Paperback
Gavan Daws does an excellent job writing an unbiased account of the life of Father Damien. The author shows great respect for all the characters that appear in this story. The history surrounding Damien's life is accurate and enjoyable. The book is very inspiring and eye-opening. A must-read if you are interested on the Hawaiian Islands.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book for anyone who is curious about Father Damien of Molokai. It is comprehensive, non-religious, well written, and well structured. Gavan Daws did a great job describing Father Damien, his negative as well his positive attributes. It includes the actual photos of key players and drawings of the Kalawao settlement, the quarantined area of the island. Readers can glimpse into the lives of those people afflicted with the leprosy and, of course, Father Damien, who was the first priest to volunteer to go to the settlement. Even when he caught the dreaded disease himself some 11 years later, he never slowed down. He wanted to make sure that the programs that he started will continue long after he was gone. He died of leprosy on Monday, April 15, 1889. He was 49 years old.

2/22/09 - I just saw on MSNBC that Father Damien will be declared a saint on 10/11/09 at the Vatican ceremony! I can almost hear Father Damien chuckling in Heaven!
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Format: Paperback
This is one book for which I just needed to wait for the right time. One concern I had was that I'd be repulsed by a story all about leprosy. And I could see there were a few pictures near the mid-point. It had been recommended to me by someone I knew I could trust, and yet....

Finally, perusing my shelves for some Lenten Reading, Holy Man caught my attention. Yes, Lent would be a good time, and if I did feel repulsed, well it would be a good time to "offer it up." I was delighted to realize, after completing Holy Man, that I had been mesmerized by the story, not repulsed by the detail (which was carefully crafted to reflect truth but not with the modern sense of needing to horrify in order to make the point) and that I was grateful for having met Fr. Damien in its pages.

The book was published in 1973, so when I did get to the end, there were no details of the "rest of the story." This priest, of the Order of the Sacred Hearts, who died of leprosy at age 49 in Molokai after 12 years of unstinted service to God's most vulnerable, was declared venerable by Pope Pius VI in 1977, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995, and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009, and is now known as St. Damien Joseph de Veuster of Molokai, whose Feast Day is May 10.

The great mystery of this book, revealed but not explained (and I think not "explainable") is how an individual soul discerns the specific work to which God calls him or her, and then whole heartedly commits himself to that work. Seminarian Damien (of Belgium) left so promptly for Hawaii, that his ordination had to wait for his arrival there, and a bishop to ordain him. Damien never saw the members of his family again.
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