Audrey Toguchi, in Rome for the ceremony, says Father Damien's work with leprosy patients on a Hawaiian island in the 19th century showed people they are all special.
Damien's was born Jozef De Veuster. He was beloved by the lepers he ministered to for 16 years before dying of the disease himself in 1889.
Pope Benedict XVI decided Toguchi's apparently inexplicable healing from what doctors had described as terminal cancer was a miracle wrought through Damien's intercession.
Toguchi, an 80-year-old retired teacher, told journalists Thursday that Damien's life taught her hope.