Enduring Spirit, Sacred Ground
When Hansen's disease (leprosy) was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands, King Kamehameha V banished all afflicted to the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula on the north shore of Molokai.
Since 1866, more than 8000 people, mostly Hawaiians, have died at Kalaupapa. Once a prison, Kalaupapa is now refuge for the few remaining residents who are now cured, but were forced to live their lives in isolation.
Did You Know?
Father Damien and patient helpers enlarged St. Philomena Catholic Church, a tiny wooden structure built in 1872, by adding a nave in 1876. After the steeple collapsed in a wind storm, he began constructing the larger masonry and wood main nave in 1888, which is the church seen at Kalawao today.