Continued Concern for Hawaiian Health
There was one thing that especially worried Kamehameha V. As the population of outsiders in Hawai‘i increased, the Native Hawaiian population was still shrinking. Clearly there were many introduced diseases for which the Hawaiians had no immunities. Even Kamehameha II and his queen died in England from measles. Each year there were fewer and fewer Native Hawaiians. In addition, Hansen’s disease had begun to spread. Because Hansen’s disease is contagious and little was known then about how to treat it, a law was passed in 1865 to take the people who had the disease to the island of Moloka‘i. The settlement was then started in 1866. A Catholic priest named Father Damien asked to be sent to help the sick. He stayed on Moloka‘i from 1873 until he died of Hansen’s disease himself in 1889. Mother Marianne Cope helped Father Damien in his mission. She brought the first company of nuns to Kalaupapa in 1888 and worked there until her death in 1918. Today, Kalaupapa is a National Historic Park, because of its remarkable beauty, and a place where suffering has been replaced by pride. Father Damien was declared a saint by the Catholic Church in 2009, and Mother Marianne Cope was declared a saint in 2012.