Home   Calendar   Holidays   the United States   Father Damien Day

Father Damien Day in the United States

On April 15, 1889, Father Damien died of Hansen's disease on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. He was a man who cared for sufferers of this disease and continued his missionary work on this island. People in Hawaii remember his life and deeds on April 15, the anniversary of his death.

This is St Joseph church on Molokai, Hawaii. It was built Father Damien who served the leper colony on the island.
The church built by Father Damien on Molokai, Hawaii.

What Do People Do?

A variety of activities are organized on April 15. The statue of Father Damien at the Hawaii Capitol is carefully draped in lei (a Hawaiian flower garland often hung around the necks of guests), prayers are said and solemn songs are sung. Father Damien is awaiting sainthood and recently, a Catholic Feast Day has been created for Blessed Damien of Molokai, as he has become known, on May 10. On this day, wreaths are laid at his statue, prayer services are held and essay competitions are held.

Public Life

April 15 is not a public holiday in Hawaii.


On January 3, 1840, Jozef de Veuster was born in the village of Tremelo in Belgium. He took the name Damianus when he became a novice in the order of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (also known as Picpus Fathers) in Leuven, Belgium. In 1860 he became a full member of the order. This congregation sent missionaries to work on some islands in the Pacific Ocean since 1827. Father Damien, as he was known, was sent to Hawaii, where he worked in a colony for sufferers of Hansen's disease, or leprosy, on the island of Molokai. He spent the rest of his life there working to alleviate suffering and died of the same disease on April 15, 1889. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and is now referred to as Saint Damien.


Images of St. Damien are in churches and public places around the world. There are two identical bronze statues in Father Damien's honor, which were designed by the sculptor Marisol Escobar and unveiled in 1969. One forms the centerpiece of the entrance to the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu and the other is in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol, Washington, DC.

Father Damien was originally buried on Molokai and his grave there is a site of devotion. In 1936, he body was returned to Belgium and he is now buried in Belgium, close to where he was born. His religious symbols are a tree and a dove and he is a spiritual patron for people living with HIV.

Father Damien Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
ThuApr 152010Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
FriApr 152011Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
SunApr 152012Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
MonApr 152013Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
TueApr 152014Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
WedApr 152015Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
FriApr 152016Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
SatApr 152017Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
SunApr 152018Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
MonApr 152019Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii
WedApr 152020Father Damien DayLocal observanceHawaii

Quick Facts

Father Damien Day or Saint Damien Day is an occasion for residents of the state of Hawaii to remember the life and deeds of a Belgian missionary.

Father Damien Day 2018

Sunday, April 15, 2018 (local in Hawaii)

Father Damien Day 2019

Monday, April 15, 2019 (local in Hawaii)


Name in other languages

Father Damien DayEnglish
Día del Padre DamienSpanish
יום דמיאן אבHebrew
الأب داميان يومArabic
아버지 데미언의 날Korean
Pater Damian de Veusters dagNorwegian

Alternative names

Saint Damien DayEnglish
Sankt Damians dagNorwegian
Saint Damien DayGerman

List of dates for other years

Other holidays in April 2019 in the United States

You might also like

Lunar Eclipse July 27-28

Lunar Eclipse July 27-28

This is also called a Blood Moon because the Moon usually takes on a dark red color. It is the longest one this century, will you be able to see it? more

The Hindu deity Rahu.

Solar Eclipse Myths

The solar eclipse has inspired many mythical stories and influenced human behavior. Even today, eclipses of the Sun are considered bad omens in many cultures. more

Watching Lunar Eclipses

A lunar eclipse can be seen with the naked eye, unlike solar eclipses, which have special safety requirements. more