Paris (Agenzia Fides) – It was April 17, 1967 (a Monday, 42 years ago), when Raoul Follereau, better known as the “Vagabond of Charity,” entered the Bronze Doors of the Vatican to meet in a private audience with Pope Paul VI. Along with him were other members of the International Movement that promoted the beatification of Fr. Damien De Veuster. They came to present the Holy Father with a petition. From 52 different countries, 32,864 lepers of all different creeds and 302 Catholic Bishops had expressed their acknowledgment and respect for Fr. Damien. Ten years later, on July 7, 1977, Paul VI would declare the heroic virtue of the Servant of God Fr. Damien De Veuster, the Belgian missionary that had dedicated his entire life to apostolate among the lepers.
Today, the Raoul Follereau Foundation joins the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts (called the “Picpus”), and all men of good will who have prayed for the canonization of the Belgian missionary. This coming October 11, the Holy Father Benedict XVI will inscribe the name of Fr. Damien De Veuster in the list of Saints in Paradise.
The Raoul Follereau Foundation is proud of the contribution made by its Founder in the canonication of the Apostle of the Lepers and recalls the words of Raoul Follereau in addressing the Holy Father: “What the world needs is an outpouring of charity, and I would like that the feast of Fr. Damien would one day come to illumine the Day of the Lepers in the calendar of the Universal Church, to teach mankind how to love one another even more. Because the weapon for winning this war on hunger, misery, disease, and ignorance is that of Fr. Damien: Charity!” (Agenzia Fides 17/04/2009)