In September of 1881, while King Kalākaua of Hawaii was away on his world tour, his regent (and sister) Princess Liliʻuokalani visited the leper colony of Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. Its administrator was a Belgian missionary, a Catholic priest named Father Damien De Veuster.
Liliʻuokalani had probably never seen a leper before. That’s the point of a leper colony: it shields the healthy from the suffering of the afflicted. Here on Molokai, however, the Princess was surrounded by six hundred of them. Lepers, you know, are like walking corpses. Their flesh falls off by the handful until they fall down dead. ….