We read, in Fr Damien's own words, just how terrible this disease is. It's not some ancient problem, but just as much relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago. There can be a danger that we read scripture and look for sign and symbol where there is none. It can be taken to be a literal meaning, too.
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The Apostle of the Lepers
We regret to hear that the Apostle of the Lepers of Molonai is beginning to pay the penalty of his heroism. Shut away from all civilized and healthy humanity, Father Damen has for years been a willing prisoner in the island, in which are collected and confined the lepers of all the neighboring Sandwich group. For a long time, though cut off from the outward world, Father Damen continued in good health, though alone among the dead. But the stroke has fallen at last. In a letter written recently he says: “Impossible for me to go any more to
© The New York Times, Published June, 12, 1886
St Damien, pray for us.