Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Catholic Company Review: St. Damien of Molokai - Apostle of the Exiled

St. Damien of Molokai - Apostle of the Exiled by Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson

This book provides an detailed description of St. Damien's work in Hawai'i and on Molokai amongst the abandoned and isolated patients with Hansen's Disease (leprosy). It provides ample background on the history of Hawai'i and the tensions with Caucasian immigrants that prompted the Hawai'i royalty to first oust the Catholics (though they were allowed to return) and later to isolate people with the disease at a remote settlement.

Personally, I'm not quite sure I liked this book as much as I had hoped. The authors included quite a few full-length quotes from history in appendices (and some lengthy quotes in the text as well), but very little directly from St. Damien's letters. I wish there had been more. When they wrote of his feelings and struggles on the island, I would have liked to see his own words.

The history provided is extensive, but it seemed a little disjointed to me. I had trouble making all the connections I felt like the authors wanted me to make. They spoke at great length of the bias against Catholics on the islands and it was hard to believe. Not to say it wasn't true; it just seemed overwhelming to me.

The story of St. Damien is astounding. I loved reading about the sacrifices he made and the love and dedication he showed to the patients. Though we are blessed to live in a time when this particular disease is no longer a threat, there are still a great many people who are suffering and alone. St. Damien is an example to all of us.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. I have not received any payment for this review, but I did receive a free copy of the book St. Damien of Molokai - Apostle of the Exiled. Learn more about joining the reviewer program here.

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