The shrine of French Catholic priest and missionary Père Jacques-Désiré Laval is something of a Lourdes of the Indian Ocean, with many miracles attributed to pilgrimages here.
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 and was beatified in 1979 during a visit by Pope John Paul II. 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.
Père Laval is a popular figure with Mauritians of all religions. Pilgrims come from as far afield as South Africa, Britain and France to commemorate the anniversary of his death on 9 September. 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. 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.
At other times of year the shrine is fairly quiet, though the services held on Friday at 1pm and 5pm attract a reasonable crowd. In the same complex is a large, modern church and a shop with a permanent exhibition of Père Laval's robe, mitre, letters and photographs.
The church is an interesting example of modern architecture and design, with an unusual and effective use of mosaic and stained glass window.
The Shrine is dedicated to the French Catholic Missionary and priest Pere Jacques Desire Laval and it is the most important religious site in Mauritius, and also around the Indian Ocean.
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