The shrine of Pere Laval Mauritius
Jacques Desire Laval (better known as Pere Laval) was a missionary who changed the life of many people in Mauritius. Pere Laval was a roman catholic of strong spiritual belief who grew up in France and graduated as a doctor. Later on he felt God calling to him better than ever when he had a terrible accident. He changed his life course and dedicated himself to the church from then on.
In 1841, he was sent to Mauritius by the church to act as missionary. During that time period life was very rough on the island and he was the most welcome to boost up the spiritual life of the people, most of which were former slaves. He worked for and helped the poor as much as he could; his medical knowledge was very useful to him then in doing all he could to treat people and help them to lead better lives. It is believed that he may have saved more than 67, 000 souls during his stay on the island through his devotion to god and his willingness to help the poor.
Jacques Desire Laval died in 1864 which was a great loss to the Mauritian community. He was buried in the graveyard at the old church of Sainte Croix with more than 30,000 people crying out the loss during the funeral procession. In 1968, the church was consecrated with beautiful scenes from the bibles and tainted framed windows. Today the remains of the priest rest in a massive modern stone vault and is object of great respect to the Mauritians all ethnicities combined. Each year on September 9th (the anniversary of his death) people from across the island walk to the shrine to pay homage to a man who, when alive, contributed so much to the life others.
In 1979, Pere Laval was beatified (literally converted into a saint) by the Pope John Paul п on his visit to the island. He was the first one of more than 1,200 people that the pope beatified during his lifetime. Today still people consider Pere Laval to be a saint and undertake the pilgrimage to his shrine each year knowing that he will be interceding in their prayers. A small museum found at the church contains relics of the man’s past such as robes, books and personal belongings and is accessible to the public as they wish.