Robert Louis Stevenson and the Leper-Priest of Molokai

Dear Reader,

The blog Rorate Caeli posted some excerpts from a letter written by Robert Louis Stevenson as an open letter to a Dr. Hyde, a critic of the now-famous St. Damien of Molokai. Dr. Hyde was a rival Protestant missionary who criticized Damien in public for his dirtyness (he became a leper in his work), headstrong behavior (he did not consult Dr. Hyde before sacrificing himself for the lepers), bigotry (he meant his strict Catholic faith), and coarseness (he was a peasant from Belgium). Robert Louis wrote a wonderful reply that testifies to the holiness of so great a man as Damien.

There was a very prophetic line in Stevenson’s reply:

The world, in your despite, may perhaps owe you something, if your letter be the means
of substituting once for all a credible likeness for a wax abstraction. For, if that world at
all remember you, on the day when Damien of Molokai shall be named Saint, it will be in
virtue of one work: your letter to the Reverend H. B. Gage.

And, on this feast of St. Joseph, foster-father of Jesus, we can see, I hope, the image of St. Joseph who would have undoubtedly shared a cannoli and a beer with such a man as Damien.


St. Damien of Molokai and St. Joseph, pray for us to be coarse, dirty, headstrong, and bigoted as you were!


Yours in Christ,

Br. James Dominic, OP

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