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THE MARTYRS OG MOLOKAI.

Many bb are the biight examples m the history of the Church of Christ of noble and devoted men and women who have not hesitated to lay down their lives for the Master's sake ; self denying, and self-sacrifioing as have beeu many whose names adorn the roll of missionary enterprise, there has never, m all the ages, been a more sublime spectacle than is afforded m the living martyrdom of Father Damien, the noble priest of the Lepers Colony at Molokai, m the Sandwich I&lands. Happily m New Zealand we know nothing of the terrible scourge of leprosy — which is probably the direst of the diseases that afflict humanity — but those who have travelled m tbe East do not need to be told that the spectacle of the leper is the saddest under God's sun. This frightful malady prevails also m the Sandwich Islands — albeit m bther respects, as to climate, scenery, and natural beauties, one of the fairest and most attractive spots to be found m either hemisphere — and though m most diseases there is hope of recovery uader medical skill, for the leper, alas ! there is only the prospect of hopeless suffering, ending m a lingering death, Beginning often with a solitary, almost imperceptible, blemish, the disease, more or less slowly, or rapidly, works its way ; eating away fingers, toes, lips, ears, and other organs, and bringing often deafness, blindness, and imbecility to its unfortunate victims, many of whom are objects terrible to gaze upon. It is hereditary, breaking out sometimes after the interval of a generation ; and it is of a highly contagious nature, i therefore m all countries where it prevails it is found necessary to shut out the lepers from the society of all but lepers* In the Sandwich Islands there is set apart for the lepers the island of Molokai, and to this rocky prison are deported all who are afflicted with this dreadful malady, and sad indeed are the scenes that are often witnessed of the tearful partings when husband is taken from wife, or wife from husband, mother from child, or child from mother, to return no more ; women having been known to swim for miles after the vessel that was bearing away their loved ones to exile and death. To the honor of the Hawaiian Government every endeavour is, we believe, made to render the lazaretto of Molokai as comfortable as circumstances will permit ; and to the everlasting honor of the Roman Catholic Church two noble members of her priesthood have devoted their lives to the lepers, and have sacrificed themselves to the Christlike work of ministering to their, spiritual needs. The apostle of the lepers, Father Damien, a Belgian priest, has been many years engaged m this work, and having at last been attacked by the featful malady, another priest, Father L. L. Conrardy, also a Belgian, from the diocese of Liege, has gone to bis assistance, as also we believe has a noble-heavted lady who passed through New York on her way to Molokai within the past few weeks. From a letter from Father Conrardy published m the " Catholio Household " we learn that there are now on Molokai about 1150 people under the charge of Father Damien, among whom there are no less than 100 leper orphans. The lepers live from five to ten years at moßt, and Father Damien has during his stay seen the population renew itself three times. In teaching these orphans the two priests have no assistance but that of leper boys, and m addition to his labor 8 among these, and among the suffering and dying, Father Damien has recently been engaged with the aid of leper laborers m building a new church m stone and wood, being himself the head carpenter. But his mission will soon end m martyrdom. Farther Conrardy writeß 11 Dear Father Damien will soon be no more, as he is falling a victim to his charity. In England and m America they, call him the Hero Martyr. It is my privilege to be near him, to live with him. Leprosy has done its terrible work j m turns, at his ears, hiß eyes, nose, throat, his hands, and his lungs 1 The poor Father has suffered dreadfully. He is completely disfigured j his voice is almost extinct. If you could only see him m his little chamber, lying on the floor upon a bed of suffering, tearß would come into your eyes on seeing that man, who has done so much for thousands of lepers, now himself reduced to so terrible a condition, and so very little that can be done for him. People call it a sacrifice to live with lepers, bat it is only on seeing oneself a leper, and nothing but lepers around, that the extent of the sacrifice can be iully understood. Fortunately for the dear Father Damien he has yet the use of his hand, which most of our people have lost, and that his feet have not yet fallen to pieces, as it happens to many here. For there are several kinds of leproßy. Some people literally rot alive, others wither away and dry up completely. There are those who become covered with thick scales, others have their limbs eaten away, and some become frightfully disfigured, : . . . t It would be a sad thing if Father Damien were to leave me now. He is yet so useful to us, yoB so neceo--1 eary m many things. . . . May

God preserve the good Father at least for one year longer, no matter m what way, for after all it is better to be two together than being alone." Here, indeed, is a touching picture of Christian heroism, one which should appeal to the hearts of all men no rfyattpr to wbftt branch of the Church they belong 5 and wherever this wonderful story of selfsacrificing devotion is told the names of the apostle of Molofcai and his noble hearted colleagues should be remembered m the prayers of all Christian people.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18890402.2.27

Bibliographic details

THE MARTYRS OG MOLOKAI., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2100, 2 April 1889

Word Count
1,008

THE MARTYRS OG MOLOKAI. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2100, 2 April 1889

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