Damien of Molokai, the leper priest, was 'no saintly philanthropist' according to a Rev. Hyde in 1889. Damien was, in Hyde's words, 'a coarse, dirty, headstrong bigot - not a pure man in his relations with women', a man whose own leprosy was 'due to his vices and carelessness. Damning accusations.
In a powerfully impassioned response, Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and other great books, upholds Fr Damien and accuses his fellow Presbyterian of unjustly maligning a man of virtue and humanity who would one day, he prophesied, be canonised a saint.
Stevenson, in this virtually unknown text, composes a powerful work of evidence-based humanitarianism, about compassion, ecumenism and reconciliation, about human failings and the importance of justice. The foreword, introduction and afterword by Mullan, Burns and Drury highlight the relevance of Stevenson's text, and the life and witness of Damien, for our times.
Read the review in AD2000 here.