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Donders died among his lepers on January 14, 1887. He was mourned as their benefactor and invoked as a saint. Pope John Paul II beatified Donders on May 23, 1982. Blessed Peter Donders is buried in Batavia, Surinam.(1)
Reference: (1) Blesseds, The Redemptorists: http://www.cssr.com/english/saintsblessed/donders.shtml (2) Blessed Peter Donders, Redemptorists International:http://www.cssrredemptoristi.com/english/scalanews/blessed-peter-donders-2/.
(1809 - 1887; Feast Day: January 14)
In his charity he not only provided the benefits of religion to the patients, but even tended them personally until he was able to persuade the authorities to provide adequate nursing services. In many ways he was able to improve the conditions of the lepers through his energy in bringing their needs to the attention of the colonial authorities.When the Redemptorists arrived in 1866 to take charge of the mission of Surinam, Father Donders and one of his fellow priests applied for admission into the Congregation. The two candidates made their novitiate under the Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Johan Baptist Winkels, and they took their vows on 24th June 1867.(2)
Peter Donders was born in Tilburg, Holland, on October 27, 1809, and as a boy he felt called to the priesthood. His family was poor, and his schooling was cut short so that he could learn weaving, which was his father’s trade. At the age of 22, he entered St. Michael-Gestel Seminary. Ordained a priest on June 5, 1841, Donders set out for Paramaribo, Surinam, a Dutch colony.
For 14 years he ministered to the city’s 2,000 Catholics, and regularly visited the plantation slaves, the military garrisons, and the indigenous people who lived along the rivers. In 1856, he volunteered to minister to people with leprosy at Batavia, where he remained for the next 28 years.(1)
As a Redemptorist he now turned his attention to the Indian peoples of Surinam. He continued with this work, previously neglected through lack of manpower, almost until his death. He began to learn the native languages and to instruct the Indians in the Christian faith, until failing strength compelled him to leave to others what he had begun.
"Let God's holy will be done in all things. The Holy Will of God and perfect obedience in all things have always been my consolation, and I hope that it may still be so at the hour of my death."
Blessed Peter Donders