HONOLULU (AP) Renewed interest in the story of a Roman Catholic priest who ministered to leprosy patients in 19th century Hawaii has prompted a parish to lay plans for a museum in his honor.
The pending canonization that will transform the Rev. Damien de Veuster from "blessed" to "saint" has revived interest in artifacts connected to the priest.
The items currently stored in an air-conditioned room out of public view include a lock of hair, carpenter tools and reading glasses.
A Waikiki church, St. Augustine Catholic Church, has received approval to build a museum but has yet to purchase a neighboring store for the project. The ABC Store isn't on the market.
"We're hoping and praying there might be a compassionate heart where they would be open to at least looking to the possibility of selling," said the Rev. Lane Akiona, the pastor at St. Augustine. "If that doesn't work out, we'll have to go to Plan B and do a new construction ... on the church property."
Pope Benedict XVI recently approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Damien, a 19th century Belgian priest, opening the way for him to be declared a saint.
Benedict declared that a Honolulu woman's recovery in 1999 from terminal lung cancer was the miracle needed for Father Damien's canonization. The miracle was attributed to the intercession of the late priest, to whom the woman, Audrey Toguchi, had prayed.