On September 9, the 155th anniversary of the death of Blessed Father Laval is commemorated. The annual commemoration of the death of the “Apostle of Mauritius” by the Diocese of Port-Louis will have a special character this year due to the presence of Pope Francis in the vault on the same day.
Due to the papal visit to the shrine, the traditional pilgrimage to the Holy Cross on the night of September 8-9, which attracts tens of thousands of Mauritians of all religions each year, will be postponed. Thus, this night pilgrimage will be held on September 7 with a first mass at 5:30 pm inside the church. While the televised mass presided over by Cardinal Piat is scheduled for 8 pm. It will take place as usual in the church courtyard. This will be followed by another mass at 10:30 pm, still outside.
Jacques Désiré Laval was born in Normandy on September 18, 1803. Born into a family of eight children, he was a doctor before becoming a seminarian in 1839. He arrived in Mauritius in 1841 at the age of 38. Fully devoted to his life of prayer, he taught catechism to freed slaves, slowly being accepted by all. He died on September 9, 1864. Father Jacques-Désiré Laval was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 29, 1979, in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This was the first beatification of John Paul II who placed his pontificate under the protection of this humble missionary. The Pope invited Christians all over the world to take him as a model.
Assisted by other missionaries, Father Laval healed a whole people physically and morally. While cholera and smallpox were rampant in Mauritius between 1854 and 1856, Father Laval devoted himself to the extreme for the sick and dying. He died in 1864, following strokes.