Skip navigation
Timeline / Defining Rights and Responsibilities / 1889: Father Damien dies of leprosy

1889: Father Damien dies of leprosy

Father Damien, who dedicated his life to caring for patients with leprosy on the Hawaiian island Moloka‘i, dies of the disease.

In 1873, a Norwegian physician, Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (b. 1841–d. 1912) identified the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae as the cause of leprosy. Today the disease bears his name: Hansen’s disease.


1 / 2

Father Damien’s funeral, Moloka'i

Courtesy Library of Congress

2 / 2

Father Damien, 1889

Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives